Saturday, 25 August 2012

The Colour of Me

No matter how much you enjoy your freedom, there are times when you realise how single you are: weddings fly straight in at no 1, followed by funerals, christenings and nights out with friends (if you're the wallflower).

You've probably guessed all of these already. There is, however, one other time when your single-dom hits you like a juggernaut: clothes shopping!

That's right... It's the awkward moment when you're by yourself, you're in a clothes shop and you don't know which colours go together, so you have to ask the (good-looking) shop assistant to help you coordinate them.

Then there's the solitary process of trying the clothes on in the changing cubicle. You take them on and off a million times, trying to decide a) if they fit and b) if so, do they suit you?

While the other guys pull back the curtain for their wife or girlfriend's opinion, you peep out shyly from behind the curtain to see if the pretty shop assistant is nearby hanging up clothes or something. Affirmative. Only then do you draw it back and ask  'Are the sleeves too big or too small?' - the male equivalent of asking 'Does my bum look big in this?'.

She says no, then asks if there's anything else she can help you with. You say no, and as you walk to the counter to pay for your new clothes, you realise you need a woman's touch. We men may learn how to dress ourselves when we're kids, but we'll be learning dress sense forever!

The witty Mark Twain famously said, 'I never let schooling interfere with my education.' So if someone should lift me off the singles market this year, then, having chosen my own clothes and learned to coordinate colours a little better, I can at least wear a badge with 'Zara -Class of 2012' emblazoned on it.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Literature to hold your hand

Being a man of letters, I'm probably biased when I say books are the best thing since sliced bread. If I'd been a number cruncher, I'd have said it was algebra, a scary thought to anyone's mind (except mathematicians, of course).

And I said so because of the power of books to educate us not only with facts and figures, but about life itself.

You know how just when you're going through a break-up or other painful experience, the radio plays the most crushingly relevant song possible (for me it was the Human League's Don't You Want Me every day after I got the elbow! Ouch!). It occurred to me that books do the same.

I was reading one of my beloved Orhan Pahmuk's novels a month ago, when I suddenly found myself nodding my head. I paused, put the book down for a moment and thought 'This guy knows what it's all about.'

Pahmuk isn't the only one who's had this effect on me. Paulo Coelho has also offered timely words in the past. It's as if they've both lived before, have seen all of life's pitfalls and now, following this dressed rehearsal, can show us how to live a happy - or happier - life.

Have you discovered any fiction writers who you felt could steer you through life? I'd be interested to hear what both you and they had to say.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

I wish you all the Bs for the next Olympics

Roll on, Rio 2016! 

The London 2012 Olympic Games got off to a slightly farcical start, with accusations of doping, the match fixing scandal and Boz Johnson getting caught in a zip wire. Later on, they took on the bitter taste of sour grapes towards the end with a rift between Bolt and Lewis, but in spite of all this they were still a rip-roaring success. 

Our opening ceremony gave us Bond, Bean and Beth II (as in Queen Eliza), then we wheeled out Sir Paul McCartney for a chorus of na-na-na-nanananas in a celebration of our Britishness. And we closed the Games by proving something that all Brits have known since time immemorial: that Liam Gallagher still needs brother Noel. 

But best of all, Team GB won a serious amount of medals in between. Anyone who says the medals don't remind them of those chocolate coins you get at Christmas time, incidentally, is a big fat liar! 

Elsewhere during the Games, there was the suggestion of a campaign for darts to become an Olympic sport. Being a darts fan, I'd like to see that. If I'm honest, though, I can't really see it happening.  

That brought me round to thinking about what I'd like to see become an Olympic sport. The youth in me would love to see rollerblading become part of the Games. Would be great to see more of the international community introduced to Brian Aragon! 

It would be interesting to see if any countries in particular excelled at it, too. Kenya produces terrific long distance runners, just as Britain produced Cram, Coe and Evett in the glory days of British middle-distance running (bring them back!). 

Then those who have given up on the English football team could invest their hopes in a national rollerblading team instead! With this in mind, would you like to see in the Olympics?