Friday, March 30, 2007

Rosie and Elisabeth at it again

Clearly Rosie O'Donnell is a smart woman, no one (ok aside from maybe her nemesis Donald Trump) is disputing that. She asks questions and she thinks for herself. However I wouldn't want to be in any sort of discussion with her, or god forbid argument. I don't think she listens and she's certainly an intellectual bully. I think Rosie, much like any intellectual bully, has a big chip on her shoulder and feels she has to prove to everyone just how smart she is by ramming her opinion down their throats.

A friend of ours who is incredibly intelligent, in fact, one of the smartest people we know, is very fond of saying to me: "Yes Lucille, that's an interesting point, however I've also heard that..." and then gets his point across. Even if I am way, and I mean way, out of my depth when speaking to him, he never climbs on his high horse (which would be easy for him because he also happens to be very tall!), and makes me feel like an idiot. Rather than being condescending, he's happy to share his knowledge in a way that makes me feel enriched rather than embarassed.

The funny thing is, watching this clip, I agree with most of what Rosie says, but it makes me cringe to see how she shouts and talks over other people constantly. If you want people to listen to what you have to say, you may try listening to others first Rosie!

If you can't see the clip click here.

How to remove a cork from a bottle

College Humour

Jesus meets The Terminator

OK, I know I'm having a YouTube kind of day, but this is another one really worth watching. The quality isn't great, but it's worth sitting through till the end. If you can't see the clip, click here.

When did this happen?

These are recent pics of Courtney Love taken on some beach holiday. I had no idea how thin she had gotten, being used to seeing her looking more like this.

Photo c/o hollywoodrag

David Beckham's new haircut - Why?

I've been doing a whole lot of work on my personality lately, and I decided I didn't want to be bitchy about other people on here anymore - I mean, I don't even know them right? But I think it's my aesthetic duty to point out when someone is making a huge mistake and ruining something that was pretty damn near perfect to begin with. The same way I'd protest if someone tried to put graffiti on the ceiling of the Sistine chapel.

And in this case, I am compelled at the very least to ask - why? Why would you do this to David Beckham? As Dlisted rightly pointed out, he looks like the little kid at school who decided it was a good idea to cut his own hair. I might go further and add - in the dark, after consuming some of his dad's lighter fluid.

I have a sneaking suspicion Mrs Beckham is behind this. Now I've heard of god complexes, but isn't trying to make your husband in your own image taking things a tad bit too far? OK, now I'm being bitchy again, and I so didn't want to go there.

More pictures of this fugly new do here.

Photo c/o Dlisted

Who needs snow?

The escalator in Angel tube station is supposedly the longest escalator in Europe. I don't know if that's true or not, but this guy decided it was worth checking out, on skis. I hear the police weren't too impressed by this stunt, but it's still pretty cool. If you can't see the clip, click here.

Again, thanks to Robert for the tip.

OK Go - Here It Goes Again

I think this is filmed in one take, which is what makes it so amazing. I can't imagine how long these guys must have practised for. If you can't see the clip, click here.

Thanks to the lovely Roberto for the tip.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

This and that

I'm very happy to announce that I passed my driving theory test this morning. I spent nearly all of yesterday revising. If you are going to take it (here in the UK), I might suggest you use the mock tests on this site to help you revise. These people design the DSA tests and their mock tests look the same way as they do in the actual test, plus a lot of the questions I had studied came up verbatim. I'd strongly advise spending the £6.99 (valid for a 30-day period) which enables you to do as many randomly generated mock theory tests as you like. This is how I studied - I did a test and then I wrote down and made a note of the ones I got wrong, and kept doing this repeatedly until I was getting full marks on each one. Anal I know, but it paid off - I got 34 out of 35 on the test today.

I also used this site, which although it didn't have the same format as the official DSA test, gave me a different range of questions, and the best part is that the tests (as many as you want) are completely free. There were times it got glitches and didn't generate my test results which was frustrating, but when it did work, it was another good source of learning.

The other half of the test is the hazard perception test, which is a little less easy to study for. Basically they show you 14 clips using a point of view camera to give you the impression that you are driving the car and looking out onto the road in front of you. Your job is to mouse click as soon as you see something that could be a potential hazard and then to continue clicking as this hazard progresses. The earlier you spot something and click, it gives you 5 points (the highest you can score on a single clip) the later you spot it and click you get 4 points, then 3, then, 2 etc. If you try and cheat and click all the time or in what is perceived as a rhythmical fashion, you get a big fat 0.

I used this software to practice, which I think is a good way of doing it. Even if you are fairly confident of your driving and observation skills already, it allows you to get used to the interface of the programme and shows you how it works, how they mark you etc. There's also an extra bit on it where you drive around with this chap who was in the police for many years and is now an emergency services driver, and he talks while he is driving pointing out things to look for/be aware of etc. Very interesting and useful.

Anyway, I'm relieved that that part of it is over, and tomorrow I am booking my practical test. I'm not worried so much about my driving skills as much as I am about being so tense my mind gets all jumbled and I make stupid mistakes. But that's a worry for another day.


I'm reading a very good book right now entitled 'The disease to please: Curing the People-pleasing Syndrome' by the late clinical psychologist Dr Harriet Braiker.

If you find you are unable to say no to people, and then seethe inwardly with resentment towards them and or anger at yourself for not being able to say no. Or if you often find yourself in situations where people are rude or sarcastic towards you and you feel you are unable to stand up to them. Or if you change your opinions if you sense someone is going to disagree with yours, or worse, don't voice any at all for the same reason. Or if the idea of conflict fills you with anxiety. Or if you when you choose to fulfil your own needs ahead of others, you feel an enormous sense of guilt. Or if you place very high expectations and standards on your own behaviour and by default on others, and how they should treat you, and then get very dissapointed or crushed when they inevitably don't. Or if you cannot understand why, despite the fact that you are such a nice, caring, generous person, some people are still mean to you.

If you answered yes to one or more of these, then I think this may be the book for you. Check out the back cover sleeve here.

It's not one of those quick fix pop psychology paperbacks. It's written by a clinical psychologist with over 20 years of experience in dealing with people and their problems. I have read and had to read quite a few psychology text books in my time and this book, although written for a broader audience (i.e. without quite so much technical jargon), is no less credible in it's professional approach to what appears to be a serious problem affecting many people. It also includes case studies, which is a great way to help you understand the concepts.

For me it's been a real eye-opener, and there has been more than one occasion where I've had an 'aha!' moment while reading it. I highly recommend it, in fact I'm buying a copy for my mother (the consummate people pleaser!) and sending it off today.

The review on Amazon reads as follows:
In this book, Dr. Braiker, who has been a practicing psychologist for over twenty years, zeroes in on a stunningly common but very damaging problem many people suffer from. The brilliance of this book is that Dr. Braiker shows the extent of the destruction this disease can cause and then in the most accessible and meaningful way possible provides clear, rational, and positive steps to rid oneself of this disease. The typical “people pleaser” sees herself as a perennial “nice” person, whose resentment is concealed by her public “happy face”. She gives of herself to others, sometimes to a fault. She rationalizes that her behavior is motivated by a desire to avoid hurting other people’s feelings. She generally denies feeling angry herself, and will do almost anything to avoid conflict and confrontation. She wants and needs for everyone to like her. She believes that by fulfilling everyone’s expectations of her, she can prevent their rejection or anger. What she doesn’t know – but is about to learn - is the serious damage this behavior causes to herself, others, and to those relationships that mean the most to her. The book’s approach is modeled on that of effective short term therapy, with 3 phases: The Click – A description of the “disease to please” syndrome with a “People Pleaser Quiz” for the reader to use to diagnose him/herself. The Promise – This details what the outcome of the cure will be by transforming the “Click” of insight into the motivation to get better. The Plan – A 3-Week Action Plan that will produce tangible, measurable rewards in the form of short-term milestones on the journey to longer-term and lasting results.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Baby you can drive my car

Big news on this end, Robert got his drivers license on Friday! Congratulations Roberto - very proud!!!

Now I've got to do it ...

Yesterday, Johnny (my instructor), and I went to Isleworth, which is where the test center is, to do a mock test run. We had to go on dual carriageways to get there and that meant upping my speed from my usual snail's pace of 20 to 50 - which was terrifying to say the least. What's worse is that we entered the first dual carriageway in the first 10 minutes of leaving the house - a time I usually need to get used to the car and feel a bit wobbly . My mom would refer to this as 'sink or swim' time, and I could actually feel my right leg (the one on the accelerator) jumping from the nerves.

Anyway, we got there, and the more I drove, the better it became. We also did some more dual carriageway driving in Isleworth and I soon became a lot more used to it.

I failed the mock test run, but Johnny says he has never had a pupil in his 15 years who passes it their very first time like that. He says my case is slightly unusual in that my maneuvers were fine (no faults), but my driving needs some work - mostly on major roundabouts (entering etc), and not driving too fast on busy high streets and then having to slow down too quickly if there is a potential hazard. These and a few other things which will come with a bit more driving experience I think, but I need to be absolutely polished for the test itself.

We are off the the test center on Saturday and Sunday again this week, which is going to be an enormous help. Even the trip there and back (approx 45 mins to an hour each way) involves all sorts of driving challenges which are an important source of learning for me.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Separated at birth?

Rufus and Katy celebrated their birthdays this Saturday night by throwing an excellent bash at The Well in Clerkenwell. The theme (which I thought was inspired) was dressing up as what you wanted to be when you grew up. Although he bears a striking resemblance to the brilliant, albeit troubled Robert Downey Junior, James actually came as a doctor, and the wig was on loan from Robert who came as Donald Trump (not Borris Johnson!). More pictures from the party here.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Heather Mills McCartney on Dancing with the Stars

Everyone's been talking about Heather Mills McCartney going on a show called 'Dancing with the stars' in the USA. But until today I hadn't see any footage. My regular celeb source blogs are either not interested in posting it, or haven't seen it yet. Well, thanks to You Tube I did, and now you can see it too. Her performance looked OK to me - nothing amazing, but then again, probably pretty amazing considering she is dancing with a prosthetic limb!
If you can't see the clip, click here.

And yes, the question everyone's been asking has already been addressed by an American show, and here's the spoof video.

If you can't see the clip click here.

So not what she expected

There's a new documentary out called 'Ghosts of Abu Ghraib' which, according to IMDB, examines the prisoner abuse scandal involving US soldiers and detainees at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison in 2003.

In the above clip, the film maker, Rory Kennedy, came onto 'The View' to discuss the film.

Now the clip is interesting in two ways - firstly, the subject matter is compelling and I think it may be a film worth seeing in order to better understand how people can be capable of terrible cruelty towards others, especially when they feel compelled to do so by an authority figure.

Secondly, is the fact that Kennedy found herself in the middle of what is obviously a bitch-fest between 'The View's' two panellists, Rosie and Elizabeth. It's hard to concentrate on the subject matter, because your attention is continually pulled towards the atmosphere between these two, and everyone else's discomfort. Watch it to the end.

If you can't see the clip, click here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Making freckles look hot

I'm not a huge fan of the Blohan, but the girl looks hot on the cover of GQ magazine. I like that they didn't airbrush the crap out of her freckles, which I think are kinda sexy.

Picture c/o Hollywood Rag

Stop being an arrogant bitch today

OK, I don't know who this person is but it's very funny regardless. If you can't see the clip, click here.

C/o Dlisted.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Vicktoria Beckam does not have an eating disorder.

According to a source on Perez Hilton, Victoria Beckham recently stuck out an 11-hour flight between London and Los Angeles without eating a thing. A fellow passenger says she refused all food from the flight attendants and only drank peppermint tea (she provided her own tea bags).

Now I know airline food can suck, but this is Victoria Beckham - she so flies first class. And even if she doesn't like the first class food, you'd think she'd bring something of her own to munch - a packet of Quavers perhaps?

Once again irrefutable evidence that you too can look like Posh if you follow a healthy balanced diet, also known as the fresh air diet. It totally works.

Photo c/o Dlisted

So you want to be in the movies?

Oh my god. I just watched this clip on Dlisted of a very heated argument on the set of 'I Heart Huckabees' between Lily Tomlin and what appears to be the director David O. Russell. A very different reality to all the glitz and glam you see on the red carpet and associate with the industry. Watch it to the end - shocking!

If you can't see the clip click here (second movie).

Monday, March 19, 2007

Prana and kundalini

I've just got back from seeing my friend Claire-Louise, and I'm feeling inspired. She's one of those people who has almost super-human energy and juggles a more than impressive schedule. At the moment she's got a full-time job working as an art therapist in a school. In her spare time she sees clients as a trainee psychotherapist, while working on her dissertation which will fully qualify her as a gestalt psychotherapist too. Then there's the art therapy classes she teaches, oh and the breast cancer support group she heads up. She also manages to fit in yoga classes. You'd expect her to look exhausted and be full of complaints about how tired she is and how much she has on her plate, but actually, the opposite is the case. She's remarkably positive and energised, and this is infectious.

I usually leave our meetings feeling like a self-indulgent slob by comparison - who wouldn't? But tonight we talked about yoga and she's totally sold me on it, ergo the inspired feeling. That and the fact that my sister Chantell swears it got rid of her cellulite. I've attended a grand total of two classes in my life, and I always maintain the same thing: yoga looks really easy - it isn't. But Claire's full of praise for it and says in eight months she's developed remarkable muscle tone in her body. I've taken a look at the gym class schedule for this week and slotted in a couple of classes into my diary, and I'm going to see if it does anything for me.

I've been having headaches since Friday, and I think my body is detoxing. It also hasn't really had much in the way of refined sugars, and I think it's kind of coming to terms with having a lot of those and now none at all (except some alcohol and a bit of pudding on Saturday night). Aside from the headaches, I've noticed I've got more energy. Not quite in the same league as Claire yet mind you, but definitely an improvement to last week.

On a different subject, I've noted a lot of people are being directed to my site by way of a piece I wrote about celebs and hairy armpits. It's weird, and it makes me wonder if perhaps I've inadvertently tapped into a world of hairy armpit fetishism? Personally, I don't subscribe to that look at all. In fact, I cannot bear excessive body hair on my myself - aside from my head that is. Oh, and eyebrows and eyelashes are pretty necessary too. Perhaps it has something to do with growing up in a hot country where being hairy is akin to being sweaty and uncomfortable. If I wasn't such a chicken I'd go and have it all waxed off once a month, but unfortunately I am, so it's a case of being either hairless or stubly most of the time. Some may argue a bit of extra hair is preferable to stubble. But hey, whatever rocks your boat.

On a final note, I happened upon these photos on Dlisted of Phil Spector, and nearly didn't realise it was the same man. Clearly the courtcase has put a damner on his spirits.

Phil in 2005 (left) and in court recently

Soya milk and flossing

Since having my colonic on Friday, I've stopped drinking and eating anything with dairy in it, and ditto wheat. Not severe celiac's disease wheat avoidance, but general obvious stuff like bread, pasta, cakes, biscuits etc. Basically all the yummy stuff.

The dairy thing has been easier because I'm not a big dairy eater to begin with. I also don't drink coffee and rarely drink tea. I've had to give up my Starbucks hot chocolates though, but now with the weather getting warmer that's a bit easier too. The one time I do have milk is with muesli in the morning, which I've now swapped with soya milk, which isn't actually as bad as I thought it would be.

I stopped drinking alcohol from Sunday - and that's for the next 20 days at Linzi's instruction, so we can get rid of the parasites in my gut. Pleasant stuff.

I bought some chocolate today, specifically carob made of soya instead of dairy milk, and it tastes like crap. So I've decided to just avoid chocolate substitutes all together - I mean, it aint going to compare with the real thing now is it?

Hopefully all these sacrifices will show up in the form of weight loss too. If they don't I'm going to be pissed, albeit parasite free.

I saw my dentist this morning who noted my name change and asked me when I had got married. Turns out his wife and him got married in the same month last year. He asked me if I had any problems with my teeth, and I told him it was just a general check-up MOT sort of thing ahead of (hopefully) getting pregnant. He said, "Seems like our lives are running parallel at the moment, my wife and I are trying too. Sorry, that's probably too much information (laughs)."

He told me that a lot of the dental treatments these days are in fact safe during pregnancy, though they avoid doing things like X-Rays. I think it goes without saying it's always worth letting your dentist know if you are or think you may be pregnant, just in case.

The good news is that my teeth are all in fighting fit condition, but I do need to floss more. When he told me this I had a painful reflexive memory of my visits with Ingalena, and made a solemn promise to floss more. Anything, anything to avoid seeing her again.

Rupert Everett is clueless

For those of you outside of the UK, once a year we have a big money raising drive here called Red Nose Day. The red nose indicates that it's comic relief - celebs and well known people making arses of themselves in order to raise money for charity.

This year they did all sorts of spoofs of popular reality TV shows like 'Celebrity Fame Academy', and 'Celebrity - The Apprentice'. In the case of the latter, they assembled what I thought were some impressive contestants - i.e. not necessarily major tabloid figures or D-Lister's like Jodie Marsh and Calum Best, but people that actually have a brain and or talent, to form the two opposing teams.

One of the contestants on the boy's team (along with politician Alistair Campbell and controversial ex newspaper editor Pierce Morgan) happened to be Rupert Everett. Now Rupert has never been on my list (celebrity hotties I'm allowed to perve), and nor has he done any movies that I can think of as being particularly memorable. But he is Rupert Everett - friend of Madonna and male lead of countless annoying period dramas. However when it came to playing himself, poor Rupert turned out to be a total berk.

During the very first task that they were given (to organise a funfair and raise money from ticket sales and attractions etc) he kept complaining that he was freaked out by the cameras. The other contestants rightly noted, "But you're an actor, you should be used to cameras?!" To which Rupert replied, "Yeah, but you need dialogue to be an actor," said in such a dim witted way that you got the genuine impression that Rupert, without a script, tights, and a fob chain, is indeed an empty vessel. When asked to call on his celeb mates to get some money in, again he weakly replied that he didn't actually know anyone. One of the other contestants later said that although Rupert knew Madonna, he claimed he had to write to her first before he was allowed to call her.

Now Rupert could have provided many genuine comedic moments with his complete and utter uselessness on the show (many shots of him looking vacant, freaked out, and clueless). But what does he do instead? He bails out of the show! The other contestants got up early in the morning to get to work on the first task, and he was nowhere to be seen. Gone, like a rat in the night.

I can understand he may have felt out of his depth, but I imagine a lot of the people taking part did. To their credit, at least they showed strength of character and a sense of humour by sticking things out, because after all, Rupert you eejit, it was for a good cause!

I don't know what the hell his agent told him he was going to do or what to expect, but either he didn't understand, or he's just nuts. Either way, he lost a whole lot of cred by doing the show, or rather, by not doing it.

You can see a bit of Rupert being a prat (or the others talking about what a prat he was) in this clip.

If you can't see the clip, click here.

Photo c/o

Friday, March 16, 2007

The big flush

Warning: This post contains material some people may find unappetizing. I’d advise eating lunch first, and then reading.

OK, so if I was going to write about a colonic irrigation, specifically my first ever colonic irrigation, I decided there was no point in doing it by half measures. Bottoms, or rather what comes out of them, is one of those subjects we don't like to talk about, which has a lot to do with why so many people are getting struck down with bowel cancer. If you don't talk about it, and don't go and see a doctor about it, how are you going to ensure something that is so easily treatable doesn't develop into a life-threatening illness?

So in a bid to overcome my own issues, as well as a more overriding fear of developing this disease, I decided to go and have a colonic irrigation done, and then write about it as honestly as I could. I appreciate my friends may look at me a bit differently after reading this, but if I can do my little bit to get people talking about having a poo and more so doing something about it if they aren't, then so be it.

But first let’s back up a bit and start with the initial phone consultation I had with Linzi.

Linzi Dean (that's my practitioner’s name) asked me a bit about my digestive process, specifically how often I go to the loo, if I feel a sense of completion after each visit, and we discussed what I hoped to achieve from the experience. Although I hate discussing things of this nature (who doesn’t?) She was refreshingly professional and easy to talk to. I told her that I wanted to get cleaned out and get things working as they should, instead of the ‘once a day if I'm lucky, sometimes not for two days if I’m not’ business I currently have going.

I explained that I was also hoping to get pregnant, and have read that pregnancy can cause a woman to suffer constipation, which in my case, with my bowel, is almost a certainty. I had also worked with someone who’s mother had died shortly after giving birth to her thanks to severe undiagnosed bowel problems, exacerbated by pregnancy. I decided I wanted to start with a fresh slate, and also wanted information on how to keep things working throughout. Information, I was pleased to discover, was something Linzi was happy to provide in bucket loads.

OK, so having spoken to her and booked my appointment, I then started to worry. What should I eat in the days preceding my visit? What if I have an upset stomach on that day? How embarrassing would that be? Also, and perhaps this is more of a womanly paranoia thing than a man one, what was the best thing to do to present myself in the most hygienic way? I mean, if I go to the dentist I spend at least an hour before cleaning and flossing to make sure my teeth are as clean as possible for him to inspect. To put it plainly, I wanted to make sure my bottom was just as clean and presentable in this case.

I decided I couldn't do much about the inside (that was her job), but this morning I had a bath and took good care of things with soap, wishing that soap could also get rid of the cellulite on my bottom cheeks at the same time. But I digress.

Linzi’s practice is based in Kings Langley, which if you traveling from Euston station, is 25 minutes from London on the fast train. A couple of my friends asked me why I didn’t choose to see someone a bit closer to London – especially as we live so close to Harley street and there must be at least one based there. The truth is I liked the sound of Linzi in Isabel Losada’s book, and when I spoke to her on the phone she sounded like someone I could feel comfortable with, at least as comfortable as you can be with someone fiddling with your bottom. I didn’t want to go some place after only speaking to a receptionist, and then run the risk of finding that I was completely ill at ease with the practitioner I was allocated.

So finally the day arrived, specifically today, and I got on the train feeling almost pathologically calm. It's a trick I discovered when I attended acting school - learning how to disconnect from myself when faced with an embarrassing or painful situation. I'm not sure how entirely healthy it is in a psychological sense, but it's gotten me through some difficult times in my life. I turned on my iPod, read the latest Vanity Fair, and completely and utterly shut out the fact that I was about to have my anus probed by a complete stranger. It was either that, or flee the train screaming like a banshee.

At 10.30am I was met at Kings Langley station by a taxi I had pre-ordered, and arrived at Linzi's place - a beautiful old house surrounded by leafy trees (the whole area of Kings Langley is like this) 10 minutes later. I walked around to the front door, and was surprised by an old gentleman with outstretched arms as if to embrace me. What the hell? My bottom and I were not in the mood for any embracing at this point - especially from a stranger. Not even an air kiss thank you very much. Fortunately the poor man dropped his arms and motioned towards his front door instead.

He welcomed me into his home to be met by what appeared to be his wife - equally warm and bizarrely welcoming. It was as though they were expecting me, and for a split second I thought I was at the wrong place, and that these elderly (and clearly confused) people must think I was someone else – a relative perhaps?

I have a very active imagination - it runs towards the cinematic when I'm in a real panic. I was clearly so stressed out about my upcoming experience, that everything just felt odd and confusing – and suddenly all sorts of improbable rubbish seemed entirely probable. My mind raced to the furthest paranoid reaches – perhaps this whole thing was some sort of ruse to kidnap me and suck me into some sort of cult? The 'Overly friendly and generous old people’s enema cult' perhaps?

As if sensing my concern, the lovely old chap informed me that Linzi would be there shortly, and offered me to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine. At the mention of her name I relaxed a bit, but only a bit mind you. This was someone's home - ok. But who were these old people? And where was the antiseptic chrome and glass chamber, or whatever they used for colonics? And where in god's name was Linzi? To those of you reading this, you’re most likely thinking – why didn’t I just ask them? Yes, that would have been the smart thing to do, but I was far too spaced out and disconnected and wrapped up in my paranoia at this point. So I sat quietly in my confusion, waiting and worrying.

Five minutes later Linzi arrived in a flurry with her new baby (15-days-old), and her son (two), amid apologies and explained that these were her parents, that she had meant to call me and tell me they'd let me in as she was running a bit late, and that her practice room was around the side of the house. She left small baby and two-year-old son with the bizarrely friendly and welcoming mom and dad, and we proceeded to her practice room. Deep sigh of relief.

My panic further evaporated as Linzi and I began talking, and my impression of her over the phone proved to be right. Slender, with long red hair, big blue eyes, and a hearty infectious laugh, she had a winning smile and warm sunny disposition that made it hard not to feel at ease with her.

Her consulting room was equally non-threatening. In fact, it looked very much like a doctor’s consulting room, with a desk, two chairs, and a consulting day bed. No weird tank or bath-like structure in site. I don’t know what I was expecting, but this wasn’t it – not scary at all.

We sat down and talked more about my bowel activity: poo consistency, how often I made one, etc. I mentioned a concern one of my commenters made about people with IBS and the possibility of perforating the bowel with a colonic, and to my surprise she burst out laughing. Not in a mocking way mind you, but with what appeared to be genuine incredulity. She said IBS was in fact the foremost reason people came to her to be treated, and emphasised that colonic irrigation was such a gentle procedure that a perforated colon was highly unlikely, and not something she had encountered in 20 years of practicing. She conceded that in extreme cases, there were possible risks – but these were extremely rare. But on the whole it is a process that has been in existence for centuries, and if administered by a professional under hygienic conditions, is a safe and more so healthy part of optimal bowel health.

Unfortunately there was only so much chatting we could do, and then it was time to get down to business. She gave me a hospital gown (the ones that are open at the back), showed me the loo (in a room next door), and told me to get undressed from the waist down and put on the gown. I then had to return to the bed and lay down face-up, with my bottom on this sort of disposable baby changing mat.

I took as long as I could changing, then went back into the room, lay down and nervously stared at the ceiling. Linzi reentered the room wearing an ominous-looking surgical mask and gloves.

Now the part that I was most concerned about, and I imagine a lot of people are too - the initial insertion of the speculum business. She asked me to turn onto my side and this is where my bottom was exposed to her (but everything else was thankfully covered up!). I've discovered that offering your bottom to someone to insert something into leaves you feeling remarkably vulnrable. It's not a part of our bodies we are used to touching ourselves, let alone having someone else touch (unless you are a seasoned porn actor), and lying there for those brief moments, not knowing what it was going to feel like, was in fact the worst bit of the whole process.

I did my best to relax, and the fact is, it was not painful - honestly. It’s was actually very quick. (No comment on the emotional damage.) What I will say is that the initial feeling (which doesn’t last past a few minutes) was the reflexive desire to push the speculum out – which is your sphincter muscle doing what it does, apparently. She held the speculum in place, and then inserted the pipes (I think there were two – one for putting water in, one for taking waste out). I did not feel the insertion of these pipes at all – they were very thin.

She then started to introduce warm water through one of the pipes, holding onto the bit in my bottom and asked me to gently turn onto my back again, straighten my legs, and relax.

The colonic process is a gradual and gentle one. Some people have this image of a hosepipe being stuck up your bottom with the water turned on full blast – which is where I can see the perforated bowel myth coming from. This is not the case. While working with the water pressure I felt a gentle warm feeling of water filling up my insides – it wasn’t unpleasant, it’s wasn’t painful – it was just a kind of neutral feeling. She then worked with the pressure and asked me to tell her when I had a feeling like I needed to void my bowels. When I said ‘yes now’ she released the pressure, which is when waste or gas bubbles began to come out.

The only unpleasantness, and I must emphasise this lasted for about 30 seconds only, was a feeling at one point of gripe (like when you have an upset tummy) or for women, a period pain. This is normal apparently, and everyone gets it. It’s what happens when the water breaks up the waste in your bowel. It passes quickly and that’s the only time I experienced it in the 40 minute treatment. This process of filling the bowel with water and then me saying when I felt the need to release repeated itself, all the while she massaged my stomach helping things move along.

The longer you can hold the water inside of you, ignoring that initial feeling of needing to void, the better apparently. As this lets more water in, and further into the bowel. It gets easier to do this the further into the session you proceed.

Well into the swing of things, stuff started to come out. “Ok, there’s some Candida!,” she enthused. “And there are some parasites – great!” I didn’t know what was so great about having parasites in my gut. I was quite repulsed actually, but she clearly felt that the colonic was being effective if these things were coming out at this point.

I just want to add here that while all of this was going out, I couldn’t see anything. I was staring up at the ceiling or at Linzi’s beautiful blue eyes as we talked about child birth (“Take the pain-relief options available!” she warned), and various other things. The pipes and stuff were at the bottom of the bed. She’d comment from time to time as to what was coming out (gas bubbles, coloured water etc), but for the most part we could have been having a coffee and chat at Starbucks. I felt very relaxed and only aware from time to time of the sensation of being filled with water, and in the background, the vague sensation of something in my bottom – but nothing I would describe as being painful or even uncomfortable.

At the end of the session I was advised to go to the loo next door, and take as long as I liked. She also had wet wipes for the purposes of cleaning up properly after.

I sat down on the loo and it was like I had a bad case of diarrhea – things just came pouring out – very watery. After five minutes or so I thought, ok, I’m done now. Oh but I wasn’t. Even more stuff came out, and more after that. Granted, it wasn’t pleasant, but what was pleasant was this feeling of being totally clean on the inside. Eventually I got dressed and we had a short chat about some follow up treatments.

In brief, because my taxi was waiting, she had a baby to feed, and this post is already far too long – the next steps are about replacing the good bacteria we had taken out. Because when you take out the bad stuff, you take out some of the good too, and it needs replacing. I have been given some healthy stuff like Aloe Vera and fiber etc to take over the next month to get the balance in my gut right so things work better. And I have also been given a course of something called Wormwood which will kill off the parasites over a 20 day period. The downside to this wormwood stuff, is that it’s not advisable to take when pregnant (which puts the baby-making stuff on hold), and you cannot drink dairy milk or alcohol while on the course – because the parasites thrive on these things. So no more hot chocolates from Starbucks, which is proably a blessing in disguise as I could stand to lose weight.

I’m seeing her again next Friday for another colonic, and we'll discuss further things like the effects of diet on the bowel – what to eat more of, what to avoid etc, and it goes without saying I’ll keep you posted.

Linzi Deayn can be reached on (UK mobile number) 07956 502 342


When it comes to big budget TV, no one does it better than the Americans. And if you haven't heard of this latest masterpiece coming out of the USA, and haven't seen any of it either, I'd advise you to start doing so right now.

Heroes is the story of a group of 'ordinary' people who soon find out that they have rather extraordinary powers. With the help of brilliant plot devices their seemingly random paths begin to weave together, and soon become inextricably linked to reveal their shared destiny - to save the world.

It sounds cheesy, I know. Perhaps the kind of thing you think may be better suited to your 10-year-old son and the Cartoon Network. But trust me - this is some seriously well-made adult TV. It's beautifully shot, the acting is outstanding, and the story line takes so many clever twists and turns it gives you chills. Forget 'Lost' - these writers definitely know where they are going with this story line. It's must-see TV, I promise.

The official NBC Heroes website is here. Photo from same source.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

A weight on my mind

I'm feeling fed up today - with myself that is. I've gained about four kilos since we got married in September last year. That's almost all the weight I lost in order to fit into my wedding dress. I've not really been eating more, in terms of quantity, but I've become quite relaxed with things like white carbs and sugar - which for me are red flags.

Oh sugar - I've had this craving for chocolate and sweet things since getting back from South Africa - and that's most likely a big contributor to my new girth. And no, I'm not pregnant - so it's not one of those cravings either. Then there's the fact, as Robert pointed out last night, that I haven't been to the gym. So no exercise, lots of sugar, and carbs - and there's your answer.

I hate even getting into this state of mind, because I know that being thinner isn't everything, but it's not just that my clothes have become tight, the fact of the matter is I don't feel healthy like this. How can you when you're putting loads of processed foods into your body and have no outlet for toxins?

I have my dreaded colonic irrigation thingy tomorrow morning, and I imagine she's going to tell me I need to lay off certain things - quite possibly wheat and dairy - at least for a while, and that may kick start me into losing some of this bulge.

I guess I'm just frustrated with myself for something that is entirely self-induced. I want to blame someone or something (like the woman in the previous post who blames the NHS for not helping her lose weight!), but the fact of the matter is I only have myself to blame.

Anyway, enough bitching. It's never too late to turn things around and get your shit together. I'm going to throw away all the remaining chocolate in the house, and stock the fridge with fresh fruit and veg. I'm also going to put aside a set time of day I go to the gym - and unless something urgent comes up, not deviate from that.

In other news, my driving instructor has informed me that I should be ready to take my driving test at the end of April - which is exciting. Positive thoughts and all that.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The NHS made me do it

Click on image to enlarge and read

Article (and images) c/o Reveal magazine 17-23 March 2007. UK

We do not speak of it

I met a massage therapist at a party on Saturday night, and we were discussing some of the ailments she treats. We also talked about cancer, and how bowel cancer is the third biggest killer in the UK. "It's because people in this country don't like to talk about going to the toilet," she said. It made me think of an account director I worked for for a short while back in my advertising days - someone we'd refer to as being a posh public school boy. One day, en route to the loo, he called out to me, "Mind my phone Lucille, I'm going to have a shit." It was not only unnecessarily crude and a case of too much information, but it also dispelled any theories I may have had about the English upper classes being too posh to poo, or rather, talk about it.

But the massage therapist was right about one thing - bowel cancer is the third biggest killer in the UK, and it's a real problem. Clearly diet and stress are the major contributing factors here, as is, quite possibly, a genetic predisposition towards digestive problems. The women in my family have all suffered from IBS (irritable bowel syndome) at one point or another, and we all tend to embody our stress in the form of stomach and digestive ailments.

I've long since thought about having colonic irrigation. A sort of flushing out of the system - getting rid of all the old nastiness that might be lurking in the nooks and crannies, and giving my bowel a fresh start so to speak. A friend of mine has become a big fan of having these done, and says it's made a huge difference to her all-over health - even her emotional well-being. According to a chapter in Isabel Losada's book, they can indeed find all sorts of nastiness in there - such as parasites (tract worms!), candida, and in one case a really old bit of sausage in someone who had been a vegetarian for ten years! Disgusting yes, and indeed so disgusting it makes you wonder what sorts of effect these things could be having - sitting in there rotting away causing toxins to spread throughout your system over the years.

I took it upon myself to call the person who did Losada's colonic irrigation (mentioned on her website), a lovely-sounding woman based in Kings Langley called Linzi. And before I knew it, I had scheduled an appointment for this Friday morning. God help me - I'm one of those people who can't even do a number two at a friend's house (forget public toilets completely!), never mind allow a complete (albeit trained) stranger to insert a pipe up my bottom and examine what comes out.

Going to the loo fits into that category of bodily functions (like flatulence), that I'm completely uncomfortable with. I've never found jokes about these embarrassing, albeit necessary facts of life, funny, and the mere thought of needing the toilet at a dinner party or in a public place provokes instant anxiety. I don't know what sort of Freudian explanation you might come up with for the genesis of my 'issues', but as far as I'm concerned these are things done in private (preferably in one's loo at home), and certainly not things one discusses, or makes jokes about.

Ah, but Linzi (my soon to be colonic buddy), had other ideas, and even over the phone was asking me such things as how often I go to the loo, and if I feel a sense of completeness after each visit. Fortunately this was over the phone and she couldn't see how bright red I had become, or the fact that I was shifting uncomfortably in my seat. But I did my best to answer her, all the while thinking - 'this is going to get 200 times worse on Friday.'

Updated: I've had a comment, and an email from a friend re. the potential hazards of colonic irrigation. Thanks for sending those in. I think it's worth pointing out that the person I am seeing is a licensed practitioner and she uses disposable equipment. Two fairly important things. Also she told me over the phone that treatment only commences after a full medical history - which I imagine gives her the opportunity to spot any potential red flags. If I've missed anything important in this post, it's because I haven't had the full breakdown of things. I assure you following my consultation, and (if all goes well) treatment, I will post about it in full. Also, I will ask my practitioner if there are any useful websites about this treatment worth including for your perusal.

Finally, much like the list of worse-case scenario things on the back of any off-the-shelf cough mixture or even plastic toy, there are always potential dangers with any treatment, and it's worth doing your research before proceeding.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Something in the way she moves

According to an article on the BBC website, a study has revealed it's not just a small waist with larger hips that men find the quintessential feminine form, but how a woman walks. Apparently hip swaying is a big plus - very attractive. Women tend to go for a sort of shoulder swagger in terms of their attraction to men. Continue reading.

That's great news - all I need to do is purchase a good sturdy corset and I'm all set.


Monday, March 12, 2007

Spring cleaning

Robert, when you can tie him down to actually do it, is very good at clearing things out. With him it's simple - does he need/use something, or doesn't he. Things that fall into the latter category are thrown away without a second thought, or if I have time to intervene - tossed into a box for a charity shop.

I, on the other hand, am terrible at clearing out - simply because it's not only a an hour or so of getting dust on my hands, but the equivalent of five to ten hours of unwanted therapy. It's a long drawn-out process of turning each item over in my hand considering it's value in my life, and forcing me to revisit the past. Like that time I wondered into Top Shop and foolishly thought this size 8 metallic dress would fit me - one day - if I starved for six consecutive months and miraculously managed to change my genetic makeup that is. And equally it forces me to face facts (there is no way in hell I am ever going to fit into this dress, I wasted money buying it, and now I may as well get rid of it). The final diagnosis following today's clearing session: I'm overweight and I'm also no good with money.

It's painful.

Similarly, I form hopeless attachments to odd (read useless) little things, like a box of matches we have from the Cliff - an extraordinarily romantic restaurant in Barbados - procured on the same holiday Robert proposed to me. Or a collection of love letters I still have from a boy called Jason, written to me in different coloured inks (accompanied by lots of hearts and kisses), when I was nine.

Before long, there are no longer just two piles: stuff I need and use and therefore should keep, and stuff to chuck/give away, but also a 'stuff to keep even though I have absolutely no practical use for it and never will do' pile too. These items inevitably find themselves in a box which sits unopened, only to be investigated prior to the next move - nostalgically mulled over again, before being repacked. And so forth and so on. A bunch of useless yet sentimental stuff I drag from one stage of my life to the next.

Alternatively, there are times I have enough of all the clutter, and go into a cleaning fugue state - throwing things away that I genuinely need. Once, during one of these frenzied cleaning sprees, I accidentally threw away (and subsequently lost forever) a piece of family jewelry that was very dear to me. Similarly, just this past week, a brand-new Clinique foundation compact found it's way into the bathroom dustbin. Fortunately I discovered my mistake and saved it in the nick of time. What was I thinking? I mean, how could I possibly inflict my shiny T-zone onto the unsuspecting people of London?

Seriously, I should leave this cleaning business to the professionals.

Speaking of cleaning, the lovely woman who keeps our home clean and smelling nice, is pregnant. She told me this week, and I exploded into excited gushing mode only to stop short when I saw her face. This is not good news for her. She is 37, lives with a partner (longish term I think), and says she's financially secure. I get the feeling the problem lies in her relationship. She also kept repeating, 'It's just not the right time in my life.' I felt very sorry for her - what do you say in a situation like this?

Life's strange like that - on the other side of things I have at least three coupled friends who are trying desperately to get pregnant, and worrying about the fact that they're in their mid 30's. You spend years of your life fearing that the absolute worst thing that could happen to you (or so it seems) is falling pregnant. And then, finally, you settle down and actually want to have a baby, and guess what? You find out it's not that easy. You catch yourself bitterly laughing about all that stuff they told you at school about it only taking one time. Then you have annoying people who grin at you and say, 'but it's sure fun trying right?' I imagine that begins to ware thin pretty soon too.

I have another driving lesson today, which makes it my 5th. I've got the roundabout thing sorted, and I've started doing my three-point turns, or as it's now known 'turns in the road.' I believe we are going to do reverse parking today. Drivers of London you've been warned!


Beauty and the beast: Willy 'best in show' winner of
Crufts 2007, and Elizabeth Hurley

I was reading all about dogs on the BBC website (well done Willy!), and coincidentally (?) came across a hilarious piece by Clive James about Elizabeth Hurley, and specifically the circus that is her wedding(s) to Arun Nayar.

A couple of excerpts:

"In view of the massed muscle of the inner ring of steel, the Indian press concluded that Jodhpur would be, and I quote, "more secure than during the Mughal invasions." That sounded pretty secure until you googled the Mughals and found out that in 1561, they went through the defences of Jodhpur like a scimitar through butter, but let's not quibble."

"The next bit that nobody was allowed to see was, one can only imagine, awe-inspiring. Arun placed on Elizabeth's wrists a set of red wedding bangles washed in milk - just what she'd always dreamed of. In the background, screaming paparazzi fell to their deaths from the castle walls as their aluminium extension ladders melted in the heat of the sacred fire."

Continue reading.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Ralph and the stewardess - the story

This is Lisa Robertson, the Quantas stewardess who got sacked for having sex with Ralph Fiennes in an aeroplane loo, enroute from Sydney to Mumbai.

Finally we get the whole story - from the horse's mouth! Here are some excerpts from an interview with her which appeared in First magazine 3-9 March 2007 - photos from the same source.

"Ralph was a great lover. And I thought if I was going to get the sack, it would be worth it. I knew it was against the rules but I didn't care."

"I was a bit shocked that he didn't wear a condom. Looking back I think it was dangerous behaviour - and pretty hypocritical given that he was going to India to talk about AIDS."

According to Lisa, when she arrived in Mumbai she met up Fiennes again (he called her on her mobile to arrange it). They had dinner followed by sex in his hotel room (twice that night and once the next morning.)

She said that in the morning, "Just after we made love, he said, 'I'm going to have to kick you out now.' It was my cue to go. He walked me to the door, kissed me and said: Goodbye, darling.'"

From what I can tell in the article this is the last time they saw eachother.

When she went to report for duty on the 26th of January she was informed she'd been suspended pending a disciplinary hearing. Her lawyer advised her to call Fiennes, and she left an urgent message with his PR company. Fiennes rang her back, "I told him I was in a lot of trouble and that I had been suspended from work. All he said was, 'Nothing happened.' I told him again: 'I don't think you understand, I can't deny that I was in the toilet because there are at least two people who saw us.' He said: 'We don't know each other well. I'm very sorry, I can't get involved. I can't help you.' Then he said: 'Let's have no further phone contact. I'll call you in a month's time - just to show you I'm a human being.'"

Unsurprisingly, Lisa got sacked. Other than posing in her bathing suit and lingerie to accompany this interview, it's not clear what she is doing now.

The inner warrior

We've finally switched over from Bulldog to BT, and I'm feeling very relieved and happy about it. It's also another beautiful day here in London, and there's something to be said for getting up in the morning when the sun is shining, as opposed to everything dark, cold, and depressing. Soon the pigeons will start getting jiggy with it (not a pretty site!), as Spring climbs out from beneath the duvet and shakes things up for all of us.

My skin is in revolt - it feels as though it's been dried out in the Kalahari desert and then stretched over a drum, and I've got spots. Perhaps it has something to do with changing from one drastic climate to another (it was 35 degrees in South Africa). This morning I put on some of that bio-oil stuff to try and rehydrate and re-balance it. We'll see.

I think I've found the online site to that seminar (Insight) that Isabel Losada attends in her book, 'The Battersea Park Road to Enlightenment' and am tempted to go and do one. I think it's good to shake up your perspective every now and then, and open your mind to new ideas and ways of thinking. Now I wonder if I'll convince any of my friends to do it along with me, or if this is going to be a solo mission? Somehow I think it may be better to do it alone, because there's a certain freedom being within group of strangers affords you, and perhaps you are more inclined to open up than you would be in front of someone you know.

The last time I did one of these seminars (when I was 17), I was absolutely terrified. I had no idea what lay in store for me. Friends who had done it before me, simply gave me an annoying 'I now possess secrets to inner wisdom' kind of smile, and said, "Just do it, you'll see for yourself."

But one thing was sure, although I was up for trying new things, there was no way in hell I was getting naked and running around tapping into my inner warrior - or whatever justification they came up with for making us disrobe. I don't know where I got the notion that something like this would be involved, but at that age my worst fear was always about getting naked in front of other people. Fortunately there was no naked business, but there was a lot of being naked in the emotional sense, in terms of vulnerability and taking personal risks, which is perhaps even scarier than getting your kit off.

I finished the weekend feeling lighter, focused and definitely more assertive. Some of the exercises turned out to be very useful, some of them weren't, but it was a great experience all in all. And best of all, my new assertive attitude drove my mother mad - a sure-fire sign that it had been a success.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

A picture moment continued

Anna Julia Torres and Jupiter

Nicole Ritchie in that bikini shot

Vanity Fair introduce Suri Cruise

Marliyn's nose job

Tom Cruise on South Park

The Photo Shop award goes to ...
Elizabeth Hurely gets a makeover

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A picture moment

I've been getting far too serious on here, so I thought I'd lighten the load with a few of my favourite photos from the coolnina97/letters from london archives. I'm not going to spend time fishing out the sources of these images - that would take too long and I'm off to bed. So please note that the copyrights belong to the respective owners, so don't use them for financial gain without permission, blah blah blah.

J-Lo soon discovered the dangers of being
exposed to those Scientology freaks.

Jodie Marsh showing just why she has so much
more class (and cellulite) than Jordan.

Toni Collete finally invests in a stylist.

Prince Harry asks for a lift, and gets one.

Ok, this was just too damn cute not to include.

Borat in Cannes.

That hairy man my sister Chantell loved so much.

The ad for Pronto Condoms, and a very frightening comment
about the views
of the South African Health Ministers'
approach to the aids crisis.

Cybil Shepherd giving an interview on UK TV.

More tomorrow.

Awareness and accountability

I'm reading a book called 'The Battersea Park Road to Enlightenment' by Isabel Losada (another present from Mags). It's about the author's journey to try and get out of a rut and find more meaning, fulfillment, etc in her life. She's up for trying anything, and then sets about reporting her findings - good and bad. I imagine it's going to detail encounters with a few quacks and con artists, as well as some genuine self discovery along the way.

In the first chapter (which I read last night while a jet-lagged Robert lay passed out next to me), she talks about going to a sort of assertiveness seminar which sounds very much like one I attended when I was seventeen. I have always been very interested in transformation, of not just being stuck with the cards you are dealt, but being in a position to change your hand for the better.

I find it a truly liberating fact that despite the family you are born into, or the town you were raised in, or your physical stature, or your nationality, you can actually influence the sort of person you are, the opinions you hold (which can be completely different to those you were raised with), and the life choices you make. You can be your very own person, and if you are lucky, even someone you may like.

In Losada's first chapter, I really tapped into the bit about accountability - of becoming aware and an active participant in your life, instead of being someone that things happen to.

It reminds me a lot of the time I met Robert. I was newly out of a relationship (specifically a marriage) that had turned very sour, had a lot of debt thanks to an apartment I was paying for and wasn't staying in, and was in a job I hated. I was in and out of the doctor's office - catching everything that was going around. The short end of the stick is that I was a mess - physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The fact that I managed to meet Robert in the middle of all of this, and that he actually wanted to be around me, still amazes me to this day.

Whenever I'd get down or start to feel sorry for myself, he'd look at me and say, "It could be worse." This infuriated me - it felt as though he didn't appreciate what I was going through and was making light of it. But gradually, I began to see what he was talking about - it was very much a matter of perspective. I was getting divorced, yes, but that was a good thing. My ex husband and I made each other miserable, and had already dragged things out longer than they should have gone on for. The debt business was through my own doing ultimately, and it also wasn't long-term, it just felt that way. A year or so later my flat sold and I was able to extinguish all those financial fires in one fell swoop, without ever having to borrow from a bank or a friend. And that's a better situation than a lot of people are unfortunate enough to be in.

The job was a bit more complicated. While I had debt, I needed a job, and as much as I hated my boss and he me (a co-created dynamic), I had to stick things out until something else came along. Ah, but again, here comes the bit about my accountability in the whole thing. I was signed up with one, yes only one, agency, and as I found out a bit later (thanks to an honest agent there) they were having a tough time finding clients. As a result I got only one or two interviews and that was it. After leaving my terrible job, I had the impetus (I needed cash urgently) to sign with another agency, who called me the very next day with a temp assignment, and subsequently kept me in work until I eventually started my own business. Had I been smarter about the whole thing, I would be registered with every agency in London from the start.

So, for me, two things stand out from all of this: It could have been worse (to quote Robert), and, how was I accountable for the things that happened in my life?

Saying this, there are some things you cannot control - like the death of a loved one, being hit by a bus, getting a serious disease, being born into abject poverty etc. But there are also everyday things, perhaps even small things, we can have a greater hand in, in terms of their outcome. For me this is a very freeing discovery, realising that I can actually influence things in my life - which allows me to take action, which is when stuff starts to happen. Scary, but also very exciting - because the alternative is stagnation and paralysis.

I was reminded of this, this past week, when I was doing my usual bitching about my weight to my sister - most likely boring the crap out of her. Unfortunately I'm just not one of those people who can be comfortable in their skin, and even at my thinnest weight (106 pounds back in 1997) I was complaining about stretch marks and cellulite. It's one of the things I hate about myself, because it's not only incredibly negative and destructive, but it effects those around me, and it's boring. Anyway, I was singing my usual song, "But I don't eat a lot, and I don't drink now, and I'm still the same weight, and I have a high fat percentage, cellulite etc." *Violin music fades out.*

According to the seminar Losada attends, this is what you call a victim (stuff happens to me) version of the story. To retell it another way, i.e. the 'how am I accountable?' way, would be: I often skip meals and then snack. I don't exercise at all, so my metabolic rate is rock bottom. I don't eat nearly enough fresh fruit and veg. And if I meet a friend for lunch, I'm partial to steak and chips or a hamburger - with mayonnaise thrown in for good measure. Oh yes, and then there's the hot chocolates in winter.

Anyway, I'm not about to go on a diet, or become Rocky, or stop eating mayonnaise completely, but at least, by being honest with myself, I know why I'm carrying extra weight. And if it's so damn nauseatingly important to me, I can either do something about it, or not - that's my choice. But I can't say I'm not responsible in any way. Now that's becoming accountable.

While in South Africa, a friend of mine asked me, "Can people really change? I mean, especially older people?" My opinion on this, taken from my own experience, is that the important thing is becoming aware of who you are and how you operate. It doesn't necessarily mean a cathartic Buddha-like overnight change, but at least you aren't on auto-pilot any more.

I started noticing how when I drank a certain amount, I'd want to smoke. Before I'd just drink and then I'd smoke. Now, suddenly, I was aware of that moment that I started to fidget, scope out the nearest smoker (and their their likelihood to give me one), and my growing desire to have a cigarette. Being aware of this suddenly gave me that moment to pause, and say, yes I'll have one, or no, I'm not going to have one. It didn't stop me from doing it completely, but it stopped me from doing it 7 out of 10 times, which is pretty good going I think. This also meant that I had a choice - and choice is something so fundamentally important to us, it's worth creating for yourself at every opportunity.

Today I'm meeting a friend of mine who as it happens is a very good example of an assertive go-getter sort of person, unlike myself. I have known her for nine years now, and about six years ago she got an Apple Mac, and fell so in love with it, she started banging on about what an amazing company it would be to work for. It really became her dream. I got an email from her a month ago telling me she had recently beaten hundreds of other applicants to get a sought-after job at Apple in London - the sort of job she'd been dreaming about all these years.

I don't know if it's what she'd fantasised it would be like, but I have an enormous amount of respect for her for having this dream and making it happen.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Baby stuff

My sister Mags bought me a book by Patrick Holford entitled, 'Optimum Nutrition Before During and After Pregnancy: Everything You Need to Achieve Optimum Well-being', for my birthday.

It tells you what to eat, what supplements to take, and what to avoid while trying to get pregnant, while you are pregnant, and once the baby is born - and even what to feed small children. What I find interesting, and refreshing, is that during the 'trying' period, emphasis is not placed soley on the mother, but also on the father. What a man eats, whether or not he smokes, how much he drinks, or does drugs, can effect the condition of his sperm. And according to studies, damaged sperm can not only effect fertility, but can also lead to birth deformities - it's estimated that as much as 80 percent of genetic abnormailities are caused by defective sperm. This is something I didn't know.

According to Holford you should make sure your body is healthy at least four months before even starting to try for a family. This doesn't just mean eating well and taking supplements like folic acid, but also stopping all the drinking and smoking business too - because these things can also effect egg quality - which again can lead to problems falling pregnant, and worse - birth defects.

A friend of mine told me that women have been drinking and smoking during their pregnancies for decades, and a lot of them have perfectly fine babies. I'm sure this is true, but I also feel that if I do things by the book and create as healthy a womb environment as possible, in the awful event that something is wrong with our baby, I'll know it wasn't anything I did through carelessness.

Saying all of this, I imagine there are quite a lot of varied opinions on what's good and what's bad, and it's important not to get too paranoid, because that means stress, which is also not conducive to getting pregnant or pregnancy itself. And isn't some of this baby making business supposed to be fun?

Back in London

I flew back from South Africa on Saturday night. I got to Johannesburg International Airport (or whatever they are calling it now, having changed the name about three times at great cost to the tax payer) early, so I could try and buy an upgrade with air miles. As a result I got to the gate really early (there were only three other people), and settled into my book.

A young fresh-faced girl, approximately 22, approached me looking worried, "Is this the gate for the plane to London?" I responded that it was indeed a gate with a plane going to London, and then we established that she was indeed flying Virgin too. Her face spread into a broad smile, and relieved she sat down next to be and began telling me her story. She was from an Afrikaans farming family and had never travelled in her life, "Not even to Zimbabwe," she gushed. She had studied beauty therapy, and was now heading off to London to do training, before going on to the United States where she would board and work on an ocean liner.

She was so excited, naive, and enthusiastic, and had all these wonderful things ahead of her: New friends to meet, new places and experiences to have, romances, broken hearts, smelly people on the underground to encounter, learning that you can actually walk from Piccadilly Circus to Covent Garden, that an A to Z is an essential, and to maintain that wonderful openess but to also develop a sense of self preservation etc.

There was so much information I wanted to give her - but then I thought about how I discovered all of these things for myself - sometimes the hard way, and how ultimately rewarding it all was. And the resultant feelings of independence, and gradually, almost imperceptibly, finding that you are growing up in the midst of all this discovery. I wished her the best of luck with everything that lay ahead of her. It made me smile, and strangely, a little bit sad too. I suppose she reminded me a lot of myself on that first plane journey that I made almost ten years ago.

Gradually more and more people arrived, and eventually the entrance to the gate was mobbed with individuals really eager to settle into a confined space for nearly 11 hours an hour earlier - something I've never understood. I sat back and let everyone else board first, which gave me an opportunity to take a good look at my fellow passengers. I noted eight people in wheelchairs (some of whom I think weren't handicapped per say but elderly), five people with distinctive limps - one of which was a young girl who was barefoot (both feet), and had a large tattoo on what looked like the painful foot. I wondered if perhaps the tattoo was a new installment and the cause of the limp.

There was also a stern-looking Germanic couple who wore matching red Emirates shirts, the woman accessorising hers with a matching pair of red trainers. As we were flying Virgin I wondered if they were making some sort of statement, or if perhaps they were just one of those weird heterosexual couples who like to dress alike, and all their other ensembles were dirty - the cowboy ones perhaps?

On the Heathrow Express on Sunday morning, London, enveloped by thick grey clouds, resembled something out of a second world war film - bleak and depressing. It was only when I arrived at Paddington and sweatily fell into a cab with my plastic wrapped suitcase (something Virgin South Africa are insisting on now?), that things started to regain colour again. No matter how awful the weather is, the architecture in central London never fails to cheer me up - it has such great character and beauty. Then there's the disturbing yet strangely reassuring fact that nearly every black cab driver maintains three impenetrable opinions: 1. Ken Livingston is a bastard, 2. Tony Blair has lost the plot, and 3. Britain lets in far too many foreigners.

I've learnt there's no use arguing with them on any of these points, and the best thing is to try and change the subject (tough but not impossible), or pretending as though you are very tired and just want to sit quietly and watch the sites go by. The latter usually means they return their attentions to the radio show they were listening to - usually a call-in one with people discussing just what a bastard Ken Livingston is, the fact that Tony Blair has lost the plot, and how Britain is letting in far too many foreigners.

It's good to be back.