Friday, November 29, 2013

Don't Mention the J Word


It’s the dreaded J word you can never escape here. There are whole sections of bookshops devoted to the personal growth Journey, and everyone’s on one. Or had one. Or is looking for one. Or is on one but wants a different one.
I’ve tried to get myself a Journey, I really have; but it’s more of a stop and go affair. While others extol the virtues of yoga, meditation and self-help books, I just don’t seem to be able to clock up the spiritual Air Miles in the endlessly optimistic, upbeat world that is Hollywood. I like the shallowness.
A friend recommended that I read Eckhart Tolle, whose books come highly recommended by Oprah Winfrey. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have gone near him; his beard lies in a half-crescent at the bottom of his face, as if he was caught mid-shaving when the doorbell rang and forgot to return to the bathroom mirror.
His basic premise is that we spend too much time dwelling on the past and the future and miss the joy of the present. Quite why it takes him 236 pages to say that is anybody’s guess, and nothing contained therein gives any indication as to the difficulties of implementing the philosophy.
I thought that with my dwindling finances, the chapter headed “Mind Strategies for Avoiding the Now” might prove particularly useful.
 “Tomorrow’s bills are not the problem,” states Mr Tolle. If I make them so, I am apparently holding on to a “core delusion” and turning a “mere situation, event or emotion” into a personal problem, which is the real cause of the suffering.
I tried it out with my bank manager, who is curious to know when my overdraft might be paid back.
Right, the thing is, I explained: what we have here is not a problem, it is a mere situation, and if you were to free yourself from yours, and the bank’s imprisonment in psychological time, you would start to see my debt in a different way. In fact, you would begin to see it as something in which to be joyous, because it is of the moment, the now; in losing the Now, you are losing your essential loss of Being, which is a common problem the egoic mind faces when it takes over from presence being your dominant state. Okay?
He said I still have to pay back my overdraft.
I hoped that “Ganeesha speaks” online would give me a kick start, as he/she/it promised to tell me how a solar eclipse was going to change my life forever.
The sun, it explained, was about to become overpowered by the moon; “this rare event”, it told me, was going to “increase your problems manifold”. And they weren’t just going to be problems; they were going to be “problems of astronomical proportions.” It got better. “You, in particular, will be grossly out of luck.”
Gee, thanks. You have a good day, too.
On La Brea in West Hollywood, almost every other shop is a psychic. Everyone tells me that I cannot possibly live here without one and they are stunned that I do. So I walked up to a doorway offering a $10 reading.
I was greeted by a disinterested girl of about 18. “What d’you want?”
“Well, what is there?”
“Tarot, palm, crystal ball, eye.”
“Okay, I’ll have the eye.”
“You want me to read your eyeball? That’s $45.”
“But your sign says that you’re doing a $10 deal.”
“Yeah, that’s a palm reading.”
 “Okay, I’ll have one of those.”
“To be honest, it’s not very accurate.”
As trips go, I feel this is going to be a long one, but I’m going to persevere. I may be on the hard shoulder at the moment, but I can sense a service station coming up. There always is. 

And not knowing exactly when is all part of the J word.

This blog first appeared in the Expat column of The Oldie 300th issue

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Nicole Scherzinger, Me and (no) Knickers


What’s that all about, eh? I’ve never been a big fan and, for the last 25 years, haven’t worn any.
I haven’t been trying to make any big feminist statement; I just worked out that, in a lifetime, if you work out how long it takes you to buy it, fit, it, wash it, get it on and off, tell men where the hooks are, unhook yourself when the men are incompetent . . . Honestly, I reckon that in an average lifespan, I could save eight years.
Nicole Scherzinger made the headlines today because she wasn’t wearing any underwear. No one has ever written about my not doing that. Maybe it is because she is more beautiful (can’t see it, myself - JOKE!); maybe it is because she has more to show (honestly, I am gorgeous). Who knows.
But why is the lack of underwear such a big deal?
I have never understood it. I came from a family where my mother would have hired a parachute to stop anyone seeing my ankle on the beach. I was lucky if I made it into the sea before dusk because of the complicated towel arrangement she engineered to prevent anyone seeing my four year old nipples.
One hot summer’s day after school, I was way too hot, so took my dress off and walked home in my petticoat. Cars stalled in horror. At home one evening, I came downstairs in just my vest and no pants when my parents were entertaining my father’s boss for dinner. I was just seven, but I swear that an escape from Alcatraz could not have set off more alarms.
I stopped wearing bras around the age of 20. I read a great deal of material about the zero incidences of breast cancer in countries where they are not worn. Science and medicine are split on the issue, but I stopped using chemical deodorants for the same reasons – I just felt it odd to have anything preventing and/or constricting natural blood flow in incredibly delicate areas. I am not going to play doctor and pretend that I know it if is right or not; it just felt right for me. Research it for yourselves.
I stopped wearing knickers because they are, quite simply, pointless. If you are a man and you need to secure your gear before setting off for work of a morning, fine; but come on, girls, why are you wearing them? If guys like a lacy number on a night out, great (just make sure they foot the bill, for the undies AND the restaurant); but why would you wear them otherwise?
I wash all my clothes after wearing them once, so it’s not as if knickers are protecting me from any lurking horrors in my trousers or tights. I’m not incontinent, so don’t need them as a drainage unit. Seriously, ladies – what is the point of knickers?
I confess to having spent a great number of my rugby watching days getting my kit off for the lads. I am way too old to be doing that now (give or take a pint of Stella or three) but, when I did said kit-getting-off, at least the guys never had to wait long for the show while I struggled with superfluous material (by which time, we would all have sobered up and not fancied each other anyway).
Unless you are a man sporting a picnic hamper. underwear is nothing more than a social nicety or a fashion accessory; but it is utterly superfluous to requirements. 

Especially when it's a drunken bloke trying to get it off you.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Simon Cowell, Judge Alex and George Clooney - Consummate Gentlemen

Gorgeous George. 

What can I say. You are, undoubtedly, beautiful, even though I confess to having had a much bigger passion for Dr Mark Greene (Anthony Edwards) when you were in ER together.

I also confess to having a much bigger passion for (at any rate, this week) @judgealexferrer (Judge Alex) @gabrielmacht (Suits) @maxbeesley (Suits) @simoncowell (Son of God) . . . but I don’t in any way want to diminish my utter joy in meeting you on Saturday.

Charming, sweet, diffident – you are every bit the consummate superstar, without, in any way, being smarmy or false. I was/am smitten (and not in a I HAVE TO MARRY HARVEY SPECTER) kind of way.

Julia Roberts and suntanned Milky Way Harvey Wotsisname were not so forthcoming. When I asked George for a photo, he very politely declined but said he would oblige later, which he did. When I asked Julia and Milky Wotsit, they said they were looking for someone (ie someone else – not me). In the time it took them to turn me down, we could have done a photo shoot. On safari. For a month. I finally got Julia (reluctantly) later on and had to take the picture myself. 

In the words of her character in Pretty Woman: BIG MISTAKE.
It’s set off a bit of a debate among my showbiz friends here. Personally, I have no qualms going up to anyone and asking for an autograph or photo. The stars are there to publicise their wares and be photographed; they pose for photos; they set up “situations” with other stars that they know will make it into the papers. So don’t pick and choose who you want to be photographed with when you attend an event where photographs are all. DUH!

I have one journalist friend who expressed disbelief that I would go up to George; people on my table nearly expired with the same disbelief. 

WTF. He’s just a man.
Now, take Isla Fisher. Brilliant actor, beautiful woman and wife of genius Sacha Baron Cohen. I have met her on numerous occasions. I adore her. Admire her. And, before I took our picture, she asked where it was going to be used. I told her it was just for me – no Twitter, no Facebook, just for my album. And I will 100% honour that commitment. She was right to ask, but it wasn’t a deal breaker. Love her even more now.
Simon Cowell is the ultimate joy in this respect. He’s in the business and he knows the utter pleasure he gives to people in having their picture taken with him. He knows what it’s all about and who pays his salary – the public asking for a photo. More to the point, he loves it. The showbiz. The adulation. 

That child in the womb has a great father awaiting it in the light. To be honest, I wish I was there.
I see so many stars who get it like Simon – Judge Alex Ferrer, Idris Elba, Tom Jones, Rob Brydon (names may be lost on friends either side of the Atlantic, but trust me!) . . . Stars who may not like being photographed by fans (and I have no idea whether they do or not) but know that this is the gig they signed up to.

If you don’t like the heat, get out of the limelight.
And I’m going to say it again, Julia. BIG MISTAKE.