Monday, August 27, 2007

I'm on holiday, back home in Canada, enjoying the sun and heat. Posts to resume soon.

Friday, August 24, 2007


Now that I have started my new job, people ask me the usual perplexing question: as a Canadian, what am I doing in Scotland? After semi-rambling on about how I came to live here, it hit me: Canada is like that safe and nice boyfriend while Scotland is like that dangerous and rebellious bad boy you can't help but love.

Like those considerate and soft-spoken boyfriends, Canada is dependable (and above all else, safe) and deep down, you know that you should be with them. However, you just can't help but fall for those tempestuous bad boys who leave you wondering where exactly you stand (and what the hell happened last night). Namely - Scotland.

Don't make me laugh

Women should not be afraid of condemning Wag culture for fear of being called humourless

Decca Aitkenhead
Thursday August 23, 2007
The Guardian

In the canon of popular culture, the crimes of feminism have ranged all the way from man-hating to hairy armpits, but one particular sin has always been singled out for unrivalled derision. It is often said that feminists can't take a compliment. They can't fit into size zero jeans, either, and probably can't even cook. But worse than all of that - they can't take a joke.

The charge of humourlessness has stalked the women's movement from day one, and it is, in my experience, a uniquely effective weapon. The most committed feminists I know can withstand any amount of abuse - ideological, personal, political. But call them po-faced, and watch them dissolve into girly froths of giggles, desperate to prove they're not. It was in this strategic spirit that many women, myself included, resolved a while ago to find the phenomenon of the footballer's Wag not offensive but amusing.

Blanket coverage of the Wags' World Cup excesses last summer familiarised us all with the central tenets of Wag-world - the insatiable shopping sprees, the catty rivalries, the coldly calculated fashion wars. But we told ourselves it was just a bit of harmless fun - a tongue-in-cheek self-parody. If we still struggled to summon much plausible affection for Posh, there was always Coleen McLoughlin to fall back on - Liverpool's rags to riches girl-next-door who drives a Bentley, shops for a living, but is universally adored for having remained, so it is said, "down to earth".

So we perhaps shouldn't be too surprised to learn that the Foreign Office has employed Spurs striker Jermain Defoe's fiancee, a model called Charlotte Meares, to write A Wag's Guide To Travel for the FCO website, dispensing invaluable tips to the female traveller. It covers every conceivable emergency, from breaking a Jimmy Choo heel to packing the wrong in-flight beauty products.

With their unerring instinct to bark up the wrong tree, the Tories have condemned the guide as "a waste of taxpayers' money", and "frivolous". As Meares's fee was "nominal", this is hardly a public financial scandal - and if it really were "frivolous", it would actually be fine. But in fact, as the FCO itself reports, "These pages are the most used part of the website, getting hundreds of thousands of hits. We are trying to reach young travellers, in particular young women. We want to get their attention, and this has proved very successful."

I bet it has. For a lot of aspirational young women, the Wag identity and lifestyle represents the ultimate in feminine achievement, and as such their highest ambition. In reality, Wag culture is not that unlike the world of the 18th-century courtesan - a ruthlessly competitive trade between beauty and sex, and wealth and position - and only confirms many men's long-held suspicion that women can be bought, and are only really good for shopping.

Roy Keane got it quite wrong last week, when he claimed that Wags were becoming too powerful. A kept woman who depends on her man for everything, and on her looks for keeping hold of him, is less powerful than almost anyone I know.

Wag culture can be read as the logical conclusion of a whole range of trends - lad mag porn, celebrity culture, rampant consumerism, commercialisation of football, and so forth. But it is, above all, a lesson in what happens when we don't take ourselves seriously enough, for fear of looking uptight.

At some point we will have to stop laughing. When teenage girls can dream of no higher achievement than to be someone's girlfriend, and the government issues advice on how to act accordingly, it's not funny any more. If the choice for women must be to lack either a sense of humour or a sense of their own dignity, it should be pretty simple to choose. I would rather, on balance, be humourless than vacuous.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Two Things I Learned About Scotland This Afternoon and Immediately Wished I Hadn't

1. Scotland has one of the highest death rates from coronary heart disease in the western world. After almost a year and a half of living here and amongst Scottish cuisine, I see the direct link. Even today, for example, I sat beside someone who ate a meat pie and baked beans for lunch. I saw another person who ate a plate of fries for her lunch.

Deep-fried pizza, fish and chips, tablet, crisps, deep-fried pies and sausages, more meat than you can shake a stick at, and chocolate - just your average punters daily diet!

2. Scotland has the highest rate of Multiple Sclerosis in the world. Holy shit, get me outta here!

Monday, August 20, 2007


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Putting the Hipsters in Their Place

Apologies - this post will only be of interest to those in Toronto and/or those that have ever read Now Magazine. And perhaps to some Prince fans.

In this week's Letters to the Editors, a dude named Paul Bellini writes:

When I saw that your music critic awarded Prince's Planet Earth one N (NOW, July 26-August 1), I rushed out to get it. I wasn't surprised to discover that it is Prince's most entertaining record since Sign O' The Times.

Although I haven't heard Prince's new album, which was free last month in the Daily Mail, I think that Prince doesn't get enough credit these days from hipsters. In fact, I used to be one of those obnoxious hipsters who thought that if it wasn't reviewed on Pitchfork Media, then it wasn't worth my listen. Of course, I allowed myself to enjoy trashy pop music "ironically". I was shamed into hiding my love for Madonna, Ani Difranco, and The Tragically Hip because they weren't seen as being "cool" by my fellow indie friends / boyfriend at the time.

Whatever. I now unapologetically embrace my CD collection.

Anyway, back to Prince.

A couple years ago, my brother and I bought tickets for our Mom on Mother's Day, to go see Prince. My Mom loves Prince and beyond that, I never really gave him much thought. So, when the concert date finally rolled around, my Mom and I went to go see Prince at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto and oh my god, it was totally amazing. It was one of the best concerts I had been to in a long time.

The dude may be pushing 50, but he can still totally rock out in his diamond-encrusted heels.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Photo from last weekend: Paul's Mom and I enjoying the (lack of) sunshine on a rooftop terrace in Glasgow. Damn, I have a big nose.
Meta Blogging

Me: "Do you think the "can't be arsed" attitude is innately part of the Glaswegian psyche?"

Paul: "Oh, here we go; some grand theory of yours again!"

Me: "Like, maybe Glaswegians know that they should really cut down on drinking, smoking, and eating deep-fried food but really, they can't be arsed to do so and just carry on as usual?"

Paul: "Is this going to end up on your blog?"

Me: "Ha! Well now, yeah!"

Thursday, August 09, 2007

A couple weeks ago, Paul and I were walking down Buchanon Street in the city centre when he pointed and said, "look! There's the wee man from the ned video!" He was being filmed as he rode about on a tricycle, twisting his face into bizarre contortions. Turns out they were filming another video about Glasgow, of course! And so, in the same vein as Lily Allen's LND, here is NED KRU's GLSGW:

Yesterday the newly elected SNP First Minister, Alex Salmond, announced a new commission to look into Scottish broadcasting. He called for the Scottish Executive to be given powers, so to speak, over the Scottish broadcasting area, which is currently controlled by Westminister down in London.

Apparently there has been some debate over this issue for quite a while now - even before the SNP were elected. There has been a long-running request for BBC Scotland to have its own six o'clock news programme. Although we do currently have Scottish six o'clock news bulletin (usually at 6.30pm after the main news from London) it only reports on Scottish news and events - NOT world news as seen from a Scottish perspective.

Some people, however, were more skeptical of the SNP's demands. Mr Brocklebank, a former Grampian Television Head of News and Current Affairs, said: "Nobody is fooled by Alex Salmond's demand that the Scottish Parliament be given a regulatory role over broadcasting, whilst having no control over editorial policy. Influencing editorial policy is precisely the ultimate goal of the separatists." [My italics]


As a Canadian (and living North of you-know-who), I can see the SNP's point of wanting their own flagship 6 o'clock news programme which would focus on the world from a Scottish perspective. Unlike Canada, however, Scotland isn't a completely separate country (yet?). However, this argument is eerily similar to the ol' English Canadian media versus French Quebecois media debate. Quebec has a more vibrant (successful?) entertainment industry than the rest of Canada; Quebecois TV has hit shows and a major star system (Roy Dupuis? Yum!) that the rest of English Canada doesn't have - although it is getting better from even just 5 years ago.

Although some people may argue that it is simply a language issue, I think it's also the fact that Quebec TV broadcasters simply produce loads more programmes than Anglo-Canadian ones. And they can do so because they have the budget. And they have the budget because they make a lot of shows.

Partisan media be damned! I want inflammatory exposes on Neds and Still Game on my box 24-7!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Losing Your Mind Over the "Market"

Oh, man. This clips rules - I only wish I knew what the hell Jim Cramer seems so pissed off about; something about mortgage rates. Whatever, it's not like I own anything other than a huge student loan.

Monday, August 06, 2007

"Well done, darling! Now how about sticking your head in the oven?!"

Despite not having eaten meat, chicken, or pork in the last oh, 17 years, I made a traditional Sunday roast for Paul last night. It must be love if I'm willing to cook dead cow and touch bloody pieces of flesh for my boyfriend.

Being a non-eater of meat, chicken, and pork for a long time, I've never actually bought meat before - let alone cook it for another person. While Paul was at the football game (Celtic, of course), i went to buy some meat at the grocery store. I was so confused as to what to buy (brisket, topside, what the fuck?!), I had to ask a wee old lady what she would recommend for a Sunday roast. She picked me out a hunk of meat and suggested it; I opted for the organic version, in addition to her selection.

And so, after 70-minutes, I pulled the meat out of the oven as directed by Delia Smith. The meat, however, was still too red and raw for Paul's liking (I forgot - he's British and needs everything fairly "well-done"). After another 20 minutes and sufficiently burning part of the beef, it was ready. I even made thick rich gravy and Paul, bless his wee cotton socks, ate it all.