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  • Gemma Speakman

On a political tip....


It's all gone a bit serious with topics this week. But still, relevant and real and happening. All part of the HIYOS mantra.

Literature of the week

Multi award winning actor, Tom Hanks has written a book of short stories and apparently it’s a very good read. Thinking about it, he must have read a million stories throughout his career - can you imagine how many hopeful script writers and directors were desperate to get him to sign up to their film? And let’s be honest his choice of script over the years has been fairly good so it stands to reason his own literary output might be worth a look. And now it’s available for us to consume Tom Hanks’ ‘Uncommon Type’ (Heinemann, £16.99) in his own words alone, privately, in our own time without watching any preconceived ideas or distant editorial direction from the viewpoint of a Hollywood mogul director that we’ve never met. Hanks has publicly declared the ‘transformative power’ of movies but these stories are far from sensationalist - the real drama is his ability to zone in and make us ponder the small details - a fleeting look, a feeling, a small detail but ultimately, an acceptance that everyone’s different version of ‘reality’ is well, different. Get it on amazon now.

Random fact - Tom Hanks is slightly obsessed vintage typewriters.

Pink or Blue - or anything in between?

A few weeks back there were rather a lot of headlines about John Lewis making their kids clothes 'gender neutral.' There was simultaneous uproar and applaud depending on your viewpoint. Suffice to say it’s a complex issue and it depends on so many factors that we couldn’t possibly explore properly in the confines of HIYOS. But it raises interesting talking points. As a mother of two girls I have a problem with the ‘pink is for girls and blue is for boys’ mantra and I am surprised by how this simple assumption colludes their outlook on other things in life and some may say, perpetuates sexism and the overall feeling of not being ‘good enough. ’ I’ve genuinely been told/asked ‘I can’t do that I’m a girl, ‘he’s a boy he’s stronger than me’ or ‘what’s for dinner, mum?’ etc. And as if like some kind of odourless gas, this assumption was actually regularly pervading our lives in popular culture as we grew up with a study showing that a female character from a classic Disney movie was praised seven more times for her appearance than for her skills and actions.

The PR line from John Lewis was that it wanted to ‘reduce gender stereotypes’ but I wonder how in the design drawing room they proposed to do his? Was it simply a matter of colour or slogan or was it more about the shape and form and practicality of a garment? Utilitarian with a shimmery edge or with a pared back navy trim? Are we doing it again? I guess the thing is, taking a step back, how do you actually make a garment more ‘gender neutral?’ Is there a point where the garment crosses the line where it becomes this or where it can no longer be called this and who decides?

Note, this gender segregation is not exclusive to children’s clothing. High end designers are also doing it and H&M and Zara have both created non gender ranges. Damn, no more stealing husband’s crew neck tees and jumpers (I don’t want to show off my curves in the winter - the boxy fit is so much more comfortable when hiding the layers of pie and mash underneath).

THIS DOESN'T APPLY ANY MORE

The Ogre in the room

For a topic so all pervading and unavoidable, I leave you in the much more capable hands of Hollywood total legend, Lena Dunham. I have nothing to add following her quote in the piece she penned for the NY Times late last week.

“I naïvely expected that the reticence that Hollywood’s powerful men have shown, the collective refusal to take sides in he-said she-said narratives, would be crushed in the face of this open secret being revealed definitively. The reason I am zeroing in on the men is that they have the least to lose and the most power to shift the narrative, and are probably not dealing with the same level of collective and personal trauma around these allegations.’

‘It is the problem of the Hollywood’s silence, particularly that of men who worked closely with Mr. Weinstein, only reinforces the culture that keeps women from speaking. When we stay silent, we gag the victims. When we stay silent, we condone behaviour that none of us could possibly believe is O.K. Making noise is making change [..] Speak louder.’

We’re SO not ready yet but now we can’t now unthink it ‘cos of you, mega stores.

Innocently dashing down the aisles looking for the better brand of passata reserved for the enclaves of the higher end supermarkets, I was stopped in my tracks with the two words (that for me are primarily reserved for 1st December onwards only), MINCE PIES. All inappropriate and shouty as they sat there on the supermarket shelves, in OCTOBER! (we haven’t had Halloween yet!!).

The fact is, it isn't even half term yet but as if to play the embracing game, let’s ourselves get seriously prepped in a fun, non committal kind of way. Look it's nothing major and we're not going over the top here but just little things like say, seeing cheapy (but very good quality) wrappring paper in TK Maxx for a total steal, as you pop in for your bargain candle. Don't dither just buy it and stash it - as well as labels and sellotape (none of this will go to waste!). So from now until Christmas in celebration of all the supermarkets being so silly early prepped, HIYOS is going to do the same except be a lot more fun than buying Christmas food items to stuff into us because to do this would be to totally prematurely obliterate the waistline, Christmas dinner and the mad dash around about the 23rd.

SO CHRISTMAS TIP No. 1 - start collecting or gathering some pine cones. They're around, they're free and they're pretty. With a view to making something for yourself or with the children that is decorative and cheap (closer to Christmas).

SOMETHING TO AIM FOR

Next week

“High Street Boycott” starts in earnest when the regular feature ‘Charity shop of the week ‘find’’ starts. Be inspired by second hand, recycled, real (and cheap) vintage. Feel free to send me pics and prices of any ‘gems.’

I kiss you on both cheeks 'til next week X


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