Notepad on Life

February 21, 2017

Why ‘stressed’ Jane is right to sue lottery that made her a millionaire

Filed under: Consumer,Culture,Women — - @ 12:17 am

Pic courtesy of Smart Winners

Living in a council flat and earning just £8 an hour as a temp, a terrible thing happened to Jane Park in 2013.

She won one million pounds on the Euromillions lottery, aged just 17.

Her life since, she claims, is a ruin, although some might call it a parable.

She has bought the cars, the real estate, the fake breasts. She has sought to share her good fortune with a man, only for him to throw it back in her face. She is discovering that a worthwhile return on a windfall is not measured solely in percentage points.

Now, after inviting the nation to feel her pain through the media, she has her heart set on that other must-have Millennial accessory. After the boob-job, comes the lawsuit. In the latest manifestation of an age beyond satire, she is considering suing Euromillions organisers, Camelot, for making her a millionaire. To spare others from a similar downfall, she believes people should not be allowed to buy a lottery ticket until they’re 18. Something to chew on for those who would blithely hand the responsibilities of the voting booth to 16-year-olds.

“At times it feels like winning the lottery has ruined my life,” she told the Sunday People. “I thought it would make it ten times better but it’s made it ten times worse. I wish I had no money most days. I say to myself, ‘My life would be so much easier if I hadn’t won.’

“People look at me and think, ‘I wish I had her lifestyle, I wish I had her money.’ But they don’t realise the extent of my stress. I have material things but apart from that my life is empty. What is my purpose in life?

“I’ve read about other lottery ­winners who’ve just blown it all and I can totally see how it can be done. I was stuck in front of a financial adviser who was using words like ­investment bonds. I had no clue what they meant,” she added.

It wasn’t my initial reaction, but having mulled over this infuriating story, I actually hope Ms Park gets her day in court. For while her education has clearly begun, with the realisation that money can’t buy happiness, it appears to have stalled, reflecting little credit on those around her. Never mind the financial adviser lacking in empathy, or what is entailed by the “ongoing support” that Camelot insists it has offered: I would be interested to know if any of her nearest and dearest at least tried to advise her against using the words “winning the lottery” and “stress” so close together in a public forum.

So it looks like leaving this to the judge could be Park’s last hope: an older, wiser head who, after considering her claim, might gently counsel her on leaving the money to the machinations of compound interest for the time being and finding purpose and genuine satisfaction through helping those who really need it.

Before teaching her another important life lesson, and telling her and her lawyer to sling their hooks.


May 26, 2016

Where’s a burqa when you really need one?

Filed under: foreign,Religion,Women — - @ 11:10 pm
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I mentioned the film Eye in the Sky in my last post. There is a scene in it where a woman in the market place of a Muslim neighbourhood is chivvied in no uncertain terms by the apparel police for having her wrists uncovered.

From the burqa to the niqab, we are left in no doubt these days that preserving the modesty of women is a big deal in Islamic circles. Now, however, it seems that this may depend on what type of woman you are.

When you’re a Christian woman in Egypt, for example, suddenly modesty isn’t quite at such a premium, not when you’re stripped naked and made to walk through the streets by a mob of 300  Muslim men, as described in this report from The Independent.

No doubt this horrific tale (although the poor woman was 70, so at least there’s no suggestion of ageism) may trigger a familiar debate.

“That’s not real Islam.”

“Yes it is.”

“No it isn’t.”

And so on.

I’m not an authority on what is definitive Islam, so I’ll make do with this. Whatever label is most appropriately attached to the ghastly events of last Friday, be it ‘authentic Islam’ or a ‘rogue strain’, whoever aligns himself with it needs to know that an ideology capable of such a glaring double standard, is holed well and truly below the credibility waterline.

Shame on all involved. Whatever they are.

June 9, 2014

Judge David Griffith-Jones QC is now The Enemy Within

Filed under: crime,Old People,Women — - @ 9:00 am
Tags: ,

Another day, another judge in the hall of shame at The Enemy Within, my roll-call of men, women and madness bringing Britain to its knees.

Do make sure you take a look at the face of the poor elderly lady so abysmally served by this institutional do-gooder. You won’t be able to bring yourself to look for long but look you must.

Is this really how you envisaged serving Society during all those long, idealistic days poring over law books at university, your Honour?


March 25, 2014

Wedding plans, rural-style…

Filed under: Family,Relationships,Women — - @ 9:00 am

She was sat across the aisle, discussing her impending marriage, on a Norfolk-bound bus out of Peterborough. In the way of so many in this mobile phone age, she seemed of the opinion that it’s still your private life if the only people over-hearing all about it are complete strangers…

“I don’t want Carl there, Matt. I’ve explained it to Nan; I don’t mind his family being there but I really don’t want Carl.

“It’s not fair on Kim, it’s not fair on the kids and I don’t want to have to spend the whole day waiting for him to thump somebody…”

“Invite him,” I wanted to blurt out.

And then invite me. Sounds like it could be a blast.

March 13, 2014

Child Bride

Filed under: Journalism,Kids,Women — - @ 9:00 am
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Glossy Women's Magazines Remind Us Some Girls And Women Are Living In Hell | Co.Create | creativity + culture + commerce

Glossy Women’s Magazines Remind Us Some Girls And Women Are Living In Hell

August 7, 2013

Breastfeeding and a confused nation

Filed under: food,News,sex,Women — - @ 9:02 am
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Breastfeeding symbolIt would be easy to file under ‘Nitpicking’ the story of the woman asked to stop breastfeeding her baby at Cambridge’s Parkside Swimming Pool because it breached the Pool’s ‘no food or drink’ rule.

I mean, come on, Parkside, even if such a request were still legal, think this through. Why do we have such bans? Because of the litter. Because the smell of someone’s hot food isn’t always welcome among people who aren’t themselves eating at the time. Because having the remnants of a bacon butty brush your face during a 50m freestyle isn’t the greatest way to enhance your Parkside ‘experience’.

But breastfeeding? Chalk up one more strike against the rules > common sense mentality.

There’s something bigger, here, though. These stories are by no means rare. A woman breastfeeds in public and the world’s suddenly up in arms and flailing about for any old rule on which to hang its indignation.

What the hell is the matter with us in Britain? So much of our trashed modern culture revolves around sex and sexuality. So much of our anger is expressed by name-calling that equates its target with a sex organ. And yet when we are faced with something that is part and parcel of the reproductive cycle in all its innocence – the breastfeeding of a child – we can’t handle it. We are suddenly prim Victorians who “don’t think that sort of thing’s right”.

And don’t even get us started on naturism.

It’s a strange land where “get yer tits out for the lads” is a Saturday-night mantra beloved of beered-up men everywhere and yet when a woman does precisely that, she is met with sniffy outrage.

We need to make our minds up. And maybe grow up a little in the process.

April 11, 2013

Classless society – Major promised it, Thatcher’s death unleashes it…

Filed under: History,News,politics,Women — - @ 10:16 pm
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Margaret Thatcher with Ronald Reagan at Camp David

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is something for which I have braced myself for years, the squalid joy that would follow the death of Margaret Thatcher.

That’s not to say, however, that I am not stung by the scenes that have soiled British streets these last few days.

Sad ghouls who probably think decorum is a nightclub. Gormless teenagers who weren’t even alive when Thatcher was in no. 10, holding up posters suggesting that we rejoice at her passing. Fools with champagne bottles, oblivious to the fact that there is such a thing as trying too hard.

This isn’t to say I expect hypocrisy at the passing of a controversial figure. I have no problem with Labour MPs who were unwilling to subject themselves to the recall of Parliament to mark the former Prime Minister’s death. That’s not rudeness, it’s consistency.

Nor did I have any problem with Gerry Adams’ comments on his old adversary. Whether you agree with them or not, they were, again, consistent and, while bitingly critical, they were civilly expressed. If Adams subsequently spent the evening quaffing champers and discharging party poppers, he was at least sufficiently considerate to do so in private.

Yet, as tasteless as the street celebrations were, my abiding reaction is bewilderment. Does the Left have any idea how bad and indeed ridiculous it now looks?

Margaret Thatcher has been out of the political arena for 20 years. Seizing on her death in this way is as pitiful as seizing on 1966 as a bellwether of the current state of English football.

Had they really wanted to make a hard-hitting response to the death of Margaret Thatcher, the smart play for the Socialist Worker brigade would have been to ignore it completely. To meet any request for comment with something along the lines of, “She wasn’t a nice lady, she’s been irrelevant for two decades and we have more important things to be getting on with.”

Alas, you only have to look at some of the photos at the first link above to realise that subtlety probably doesn’t come easily to people like these.

And what a spectacular own goal it all is – the so-called caring, compassionate, inclusive end of the political spectrum, exposed as a hotbed of callous bile. Remember this, floating voter, next time you are toying with the idea of voting for a Labour Party that is in thrall to this rent-a-mob.

I was never totally wowed by Margaret Thatcher. She got some things very right and others equally wrong. What has become of whole swathes of her former electorate, though, when you find yourself looking at them and wishing they could be a bit more like Gerry Adams?

January 16, 2013

Musburger the victim of a culture that debauches sex

Filed under: Journalism,Old People,sex,Sport,TV,Women — - @ 6:04 am
Tags: ,

Read some accounts of TV commentator Brent Musburger’s asides during last week’s National Championship game in American college football and it’s easy to get the impression of a sunken-faced old louche fumbling with himself in the commentary booth.

The normally balanced Yahoo Sports had the 73-year old TV broadcast veteran down as “slightly creepy“, after he did the strangest of things for a commentator and provided words to go with the pictures being broadcast (courtesy of his employer ESPN) of a section of the crowd that included Katherine Webb, the strikingly beautiful girlfriend of one of the game’s principal participants.

The Boston Globe denounced Musburger’s subsequent comments about Webb as “offensive ogling” and spoke of a “creepy adolescent dalliance”, before condemning Musburger’s remarks as  “prurient, sexist, and just plain too weird for prime time TV, considering that he is a half-century older than Webb.”

And somebody please mop the fevered brow of Sue Carter, professor of journalism, at Michigan State University, who will clearly need some time to recover from this atrocity:

“It’s a major personal violation, and it’s so retrograde that it’s embarrassing. I think there’s a generational issue, but it’s incumbent on people practicing in these eras to keep up and this is not a norm.”

My word; how bad can this have been? Shoo the kids out of the room and brace yourself, this gets pretty squalid…

You’re just appalled right? But wait, there’s more. Those tireless newshounds at Yahoo! Sports want us to know that Musburger has form in this area. Steel yourself just one more time and behold this piece of unutterable sleaze from a football game in 2005…

All right, so I’m driving the sarcasm bus here but really… While I would normally dismiss this hysteria as par for the course for those Who Simply Must Be Outraged About Something, there is something runs deeper and more ominously here.

Personally, I can spot in a moment the distinction between celebrating beauty and overtly lusting after it. Had Musburger observed that he “could use a piece of that” or that “there was a gal who could make an old man happy”, all our toes would have curled. But he doesn’t; in fact he simply points out the presence of an attractive young women in a way that was laddish without being crude and then projects the consequences onto the appropriate age-group – the wannabe quarterbacks who would pursue their dream with renewed vigour or the next generation of undergraduates who might just have had their minds made up as to which college they attend.

And that Musburger gets hammered while a TV company – one of many that make crowd close-ups of the beautiful and famous a staple part of their coverage – gets a free pass, represents a common yet lame journalistic distortion: the individual is targeted because it makes for better impact.

Viewers of 20 or 30 years ago would wonder what all the fuss is about but then Musburger’s plight could simply be the inevitable fall-out of an age that has made sex something tawdry and sordid. From hook-up culture, through websites that broker affairs or one-night stands as commodities and on to comedians whose act would collapse were they made to keep it above the waist, the dirty smirk and nudge-nudge mindset predominates, dragging down to its level anyone who wanders into its crosshairs.

So a 73-year-old man pointing out an attractive young woman cannot just be taken at face value but is instead seen as some old pervert who’s throwing his hat into the ring and making a play. Extrapolate this idea and presumably everyone over 50 who might once have complimented good looks must now keep his thoughts to himself. Sexism bad but ageism just dandy. You know how grim a culture has become when even its attempts at moralising sound perverse.

Oh there are some creepy people come out of this tale all right but I don’t have Brent Musburger anywhere on my shortlist. I’m thinking of his hypocritical employers who saw fit to embarrass him with public censure. I’m thinking of journalists and sportstalk jocks so twisted they insist on finding darkness where none exists.

Those are the people in whose company I suspect I could only be for so long before I felt the need to take a shower.

October 12, 2012

One shade of grey the ladies may have missed

Filed under: Books,sex,Women — - @ 5:54 pm
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Finally the fuss over Fifty Shades of Grey (and the copycats it spawned – the true plagiarist really is devoid of shame) appears to be dying down.

I gave it a couple of pages, just to see how on-target my suspicions were.

Pinpoint, it turned out. A lot of sex, the more lurid the better.

It was as I listened to a breathless debate about it among my female colleagues, that I was struck by the fact that men have been here before, years ago, in similarly feverish huddles in newsagents, as a group of hormone-crazed teenage boys discussed who among them could pass for 18 and usher the gang through the gates of paradise by procuring the coveted Club International.

The girls got to hear of it back at school, of course and how we were made to suffer. Not through overt denunciation but by the curled lip and ‘disappointed’ look that we would recognise only too well in later life. We were soiled, tarnished and though it went unspoken, we knew all right. This was how Original Sin must have felt.

Now? It’s the girls who have been caught with forbidden fruit. The guilty smiles are now framed in lipstick, the conspiratorial whispers hang in air laced with perfume.

The unthinkable has happened. They are fallen angels, no better than blokes.

It has been a landmark book, all right.

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