What Is Fashion?

Not a pretentious blog, this statement (above) was actually seen on a t-shirt one time. What a douche.

Last week we delved into the world of Men’s Fashion. This week, it’s the turn of the ladies, and by god there’s a bloody goldmine out there! From jeggings to jelly shoes, being caught up in the fashion world is not something I wish to be, and it would be somewhat pleasant if we could be reminded of decent clothes and the epitome of glamour once in a while.

Who could not want to wear this?! One of the best costumes I’ve seen in the moving picture, this is Grace Kelly as Lisa Fremont in the 1954 film ‘Rear Window’. This is an age of fashion that is both beautiful and impractical – nowadays it just appears to be impractical. And very poorly made – what is the point in such a quick turn over of clothes? Why go to all that trouble to make them and ship them from whatever developing country they have been made, only to be thrown out the next month when they fall apart or they need a dry clean? It’s a sad day when you realise it’s more economical to buy new clothes than wash all your old ones.

So! What are people wearing today? I’ve seen some hysterical ones on the streets,such as the trend for Leggings. This fashion seems somewhat insane to me, as most people who adopt it are usually on the large side, and personally I don’t really wish to see cellulite flying around everywhere. And I’m pretty sure no one else does either. I’m not really even a fan of seeing it on skinny people – fair enough they aren’t the see-through leggings of the early 90s, and it is plenty better on skinny people, but it’s still one thin layer of material away from skin. Neither cool nor aesthetically pleasing. Let us not wear such things. Also under this category falls Jeggings – the most pointless ‘thing’ I’ve ever seen I believe, as why not just wear skinny jeans if you want them to fit into your boots? And no I don’t care if they’re uncomfortable, they have a lot more credibility than JEGGINGS. Dear lord. They look stupid.

Right. My next point of contention is the travesty that is Ugg Boots. They are the least elegant shoe I think I’ve ever seen. Aside from always seeming to get soggy when it rains, no one ever seems to be able to wear them properly and always walks on the edges. Are they comfy? Because that must be the only reason for wearing them. But so comfy that what they look like can’t matter – a point that never seem to sit quietly with fashion.

Along the same lines of Ugg Boots (I mean in the stupid shoes gallery), Crocs aren’t exactly picturesque. But these, too, are apparently comfortable. In a shoe ‘warehouse’ the other day, me and a friend saw the worst combination of shoe ever – the boot part was of Ugg description, and the main foot consisted of Croc-based product. This confused the hell out of me (and my friend) – why would you ever combine the worst shoes in history to make  the ultimate negative combo? I mean COME ON.

Now I believe this next one is a trait that not many people like at all, although those who wear it don’t appear to realise it. Foundation, caked on so much you either look bright orange or just plain dirty, depending on the shade used, and the ironic part is that not only does it looks hideously unattractive (when you’re actually trying to appeal to people), it also it terribly bad for your skin. Which will lead to an even bigger cycle of make up to cover up the blemishes. Potential comedy gold… Having said that, make up in general is an alien concept to me – why pretend to be something you’re not, and why have all this crap on your face that means you can’t rub your eye if you want? I’m finding this picture mildly ironic due to the ‘Nature’s Minerals’ slogan on it. Hardly natural, very unlikely to be           minerals. Oh dear.

And what else? Oh yeah, hair extensions that are obviously fake. Whilst waiting for the lights to change, I observed the bird next to me, who was clearly wearing extensions, and clearly didn’t care much about the appearance, just that the hair was longer. Why extend your hair if it’s going to look awful? It’s hardly pretty to have an obvious attachment to your regular hair, especially if it’s supposed to be subtle. Big fail

And the last point – high bloody heels. Fair enough, some can look stunning and some can look beautiful – but if you can’t wear them and you look retarded, WHY EVEN BOTHER?! It’s a shame as there are some lovely shoes out there, but fashion is very much one of those things you need to know what suits you. And just because everyone else is, that doesn’t mean you have to break your neck as well. I personally think people are a lot more stylish if they chose what they like and what they are completely comfortable wearing, because there’s nothing better than someone who looks happy in their own skin.


Later With Jools Holland – 23rd April.

An odd edition of Jools, who is usually pretty on top of things. Musically, that is. Featuring Kate Nash (why?!), Plan B, Jerry Dammers Spatial AKA Orchestra, Band Of Horses, Jack Bruce and Melody Gardot, this week’s episode was a little thin, but had some tiny glimmers of hope in it. I’m pretty sure Jools was pissed again, and he kept going on about how they were in a smaller studio this week due to the election. The election isn’t until the 6th, and not everyone has a studio Mr Holland. Shh.

So! What happened? Not much, but Kate Nash made a sort-of effort, with contributions from her new album. Which has taken long enough, and by the sounds of it, was not worth the wait. Traditionally I’m not a fan anyway, as her lyrics are dire, her music is incredibly uninspiring and she tries for the “I don’t want to be here” vocal style, but this fails as it’s a terrible style anyway, and her slightly more refined sound nowadays shows that she obviously has a better voice than that – so why not use it? I couldn’t see much difference from one song to the next, and, as I was using iPlayer, chose to skip the last song instead as it grated just a little too much…

Band Of Horses felt far too much like indie landfill to me, and they were! They tried to pull off the bad haircuts and facial hair ‘thing’ (which you can only do at the moment if you’re Fleet Foxes), and didn’t sway from the ‘verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus-chorus’ style of things. We’re not children! I need something less formulaic and more creative. These first two acts felt very much like music you didn’t have to listen to – it just occurred for background sounds – which is a huge shame as music can be incredible, and what’s the point in putting in all that hard work just to come out with background noise after it all?

Jerry Dammers Spatial AKA Orchestra I have seen before in Bristol, so I was a little more tolerant of these than the first two, but I felt they didn’t play their best stuff. It was more like they were trying to give the audience a well-rounded view of what they could do, but missed out some of the better solos, and didn’t include the excellent parts when the whole brass section comes together. Plus there was far too much free jazzing again (any free jazz is too much), and the female vocalist insisting on doing her weird squeaky animal noises, which is not what I want to hear! Dear me. Sort it out Dammers. You also need new teeth, and I assume you can afford them. It is not a good look.

Plan B – sounds like a rapper’s name, turns out he IS but writes generic stuff that you hear and never know who it’s by. The song he started with, ‘ She Said’, I have heard many times before (God knows how!), but I thought it was sung by a bird and don’t really like it. I also had to skip past his last song as I also found him pretty dull and uninspiring. Shame shame shame. And disappointing. Whatever happened to good music?! Whatever happened to just being satisfied with what’s available?

Melody Gardot – now this I liked! It was subtle and minimalist, but not in an irritating The xx kind of way. It was good jazz (wow it actually exists?!), and sort of had a “Paris in the 1920s” feel to it. Far more interesting and good than anything else on this week, and I would actually consider going to see her if she was around in the area. Having said that, she was wearing sunglasses when it wasn’t needed. Did add to the super-cool “I’m a decent jazz artist and I know it” look though. Good call Gardot.

Jools get some better artists! Next week (ie. this Friday) features Gorillaz, Mos Def, and (sickeningly) Laura Marling. Better music is a-coming.

Ashes To Ashes – Series 3, Episode 4.

“I am not drunk!” states DCI Gene Hunt.

“But you have been drinking,” DI Alex Drake retorts.

“It’s nearly dinner time, of course I’ve had a bloody drink!” Hunt explains.

Now this was a particularly good start, from the Quattro roaring in to the excellent script, and I feel this is a place where the writers never fall down – there is always a good beginning to an episode of Ashes to Ashes.

However, when it gets to Alex’s little speech after the intro to explain the situation, it is basically only that that reminds you she IS in a foreign place and really she shouldn’t be there. Apparently she has a daughter, but she hasn’t mentioned her for bloody ages, and whatever happened to the godfather character, Evan, who featured so prominently in the first series? Everything about her previous life appears to be shrinking further and further away, so does this mean the script writers aren’t going to bring her back to present day at the end of the series?

This episode seems to be majorly about double-crossing and pulling the wool over peoples eyes, and the Crime Of The Week centres around an undercover policewoman (Louise Gardener) and her being planted amongst a criminal gang (when did gangs ever engage in legal and above-board activities?) who have been deemed a “bunch of bastards” by Gene Hunt. The gang, the Staffords, have begun to deal in heroin, and, in a bid to become the main dealers on the street, have started killing off other dealers by over-dosing them on their own commodity. Cruel but effective. In detection work, Alex and Hunt go to visit a heroin addict, which is somewhat depressing as most addictions are, but it leads to an intriguing episode of the addict saying:

“You look like you’re visiting but you’re not are you? You’re staying.”

(Which means what?! Is she staying or going?!), and there is plenty of graffiti written on the wall stating “For a good time, call 6602” and “Molly was here” etc. Unlike Sam Tyler, there have been little or no flashbacks, and no one in 2009 trying to make contact with Alex Drake – she seems more cut-off than ever, and flinging her back to present day at the end of Ashes to Ashes seems, currently, like it wouldn’t work. It would be too blunt and incongruous.

Anyway, the undercover agent, Louise, is visited at her placement by Drake and Hunt, and then she turns up at CID somewhat bloodied and bruised, allegedly attacked by Daniel Stafford. This attack leaves DCI Keats a tad angry (brilliant!), and he oozes his usual negativity into every single scene. The team pick up Daniel Stafford very early the next morning, and “nick” him for having heroin in the glove compartment of his car. Or “motor”, as Ray says. After talking to Louise, Chris discovers that Daniel raped her, which sends him into a fit of rage and he promptly invades the cells and “beats Daniel Stafford into an inch of his life”. Which then leads to hospitalisation and Chris potentially losing his job, but Hunt remains ever loyal to his team and would not let such things happen.

The final scene is pretty epic – after finding out where the Staffords have Louise and discovering her kissing Terry Stafford (Daniel’s dad) – so she has initially double crossed him by being undercover, then double crossed the police by being ‘undercover’ whilst sleeping with who she is supposed to be spying on. She pulls a gun on the team, but Hunt shoots it out of her hand. Then Daniel Stafford, after fighting with Chris and Ray, drives his van into Louise, and, as she is drawing her last breaths, Drake smashes his door into him. Awesome stuff. What’s not so awesome is when Keats thinks it’s ok for him to first move Louise’s body (could cause further injury you idiot!), and then spend her last moments holding her. He is possibly the least sensitive character in this scene. There is an excellent camera shot on each of the team, showing how the death has affected them here.

A particularly good contextual reference in this week’s episode was the inclusion of the 1983 vadalisation of the Blue Peter garden. This actually occurred in November 1983, and it was comical with adding in the real footage for an appeal to raise funds to repair the damage. Hunt’s reaction was “It’s only a bloody garden!” Very good referencing, but it would have worked better if it hadn’t been light at 5:30am when Chris and Ray were picking up Daniel Stafford – it is never light at 5:30am in November.

So. Team relations. How are they going? Well, there was a lovely ‘eyes moment’ between Hunt and Drake, and another moment where they nearly kiss when Alex is passed out in her flat (again). But still nothing. Shaz rejects Chris’ affections (again!), but is quite clearly jealous when he starts talking to Louise. Ray continues to be a blunt machine, and Keats continues to be as disgusting as ever, although I think I may be getting used to this now. However, his main purpose appears to be to comment on the scene, saying unnecessary rubbish that no one wants to hear. He is a little too exacerbated for my liking – too stereotyped to take seriously, and it feels like the script writers have gone too far with this character. Still, can’t wait until his potential death – surely this has to occur at some point?

Next week looks pretty exciting – a character and policeman from Manchester makes a reappearance, and, at episode 5, we should be getting at least some strings tied up. Shouldn’t we?! Get the fuck on with it. Sometimes it does feel a little like surplus, and they could have ended it at series 2, but it still makes for good watching, and there aren’t many programmes around this well written at the moment. Also, I love Gene Hunt.

“Is It Wrong For Me To Want My Men To Look Like Men?”

I quote from a close contemporary of mine, who seemed rather annoyed last time that I didn’t reference her, and considering this blog is basically inspired by her, I should state that this close contemporary is ZOE STEVENS. ALRIGHT?! And she lives just round the corner from me, is currently changing the B for an M at Bath Spa Uni, likes Marmite and might even get published soon. Bet you wish YOU knew her didn’t you?

Enough of the particulars. This blog’s topic, as it may have been obvious already, is men’s fashion nowadays, and how bloody ridiculous some of it is.

The oddities seen on the streets would challenge even the most bohemian of fashion designers. Aside from looking stupid, the majority of fashions seem to make life completely impractical, which should render them completely useless shouldn’t they? Alas, no.

These caps, in particular, confuse me. I like hats, although I’m not really a hat person, but why the hell would you wear such a stupid looking hat anyway, and then wear it several inches above your actual cranium to enlarge your general head space? The whole idea seems completely illogical, especially when the wearer appears to spend more time rearranging and keeping said hat on, and not being normal and caring about the things that matter when you’re on the streets like “Who’s stealing my bag?” or “Oh Christ, a bus is about to hit me.” Douchebags.

Now. Want to see lots of these?

Me neither.

Why do men think the world wants to be able to see them? The arrogance! The other day, I actually saw some boy’s jeans falling down because of the height of the belt, which he then pulled up to stop the trousers trailing around his ankles, but then pushed them back to expose part of his underwear. Why?! They look ridiculously awkward to wear – due to having nothing to hold them up, they need to bend their legs at a particular angle to keep them in place. Make them look like Ricketts Boy. Oh dear.

Now. My next point of contempt… Going along with the trousers, men wearing women’s trousers is just weird. Isn’t it..? It’s kind of strange when women wear men’s trousers (although they do tend to be more comfortable), but men wearing women’s?! Completely illogical once again: one’s reproductive power will be diminished and you can’t sit down and look retarded. So why do it?

The next “thing” with trousers is the Robinson Crusoe jeans. I don’t particularly wish to see a lot of pale ankles dashing about the high street, especially when they come with added idiotic shoe. Men wear weird shoes nowadays. I don’t understand why people wear something just because it’s “in fashion”. What if the fashion looks silly? They frequently do.

Haircuts. What do we think of haircuts? The ones that look like they’ve walked through the hedge backwards. Or straight out of the 70s. I can’t think of a famous person with such a sweeping fringe, but methinks you all know what I mean. What’s wrong with normal haircuts? They are so very rock music.

Personally, I blame Jack Wills. Jack ‘I’m actually far to expensive for the run-of-the-mill student but I’m going to call myself a University Outfitter anyway’ Wills. I think people walk in there normal and walk out a twat.

OH REALLY? What IS British anyway?

Any other ideas, please, feel free to contribute! Next week, Women’s fashion. Oh yes, it’ll be a field day.

Ashes To Ashes – Series 3, Episode 3.


“They left a tag, like Banksy”, says DI Drake, referring to arson graffiti relating to this week’s crime.

“I hope you’re not suggesting that goal-keeping legend Gordon Banks goes around vandalising property?” DCI Gene Hunt is outraged at the suggestion.

The Ashes to Ashes script is back on track! The amount of one-liners in episode 3 is incredible, there are too many to write down.

Ever-popular and recurring, Crime Of The Week this week centred around various arson attacks that were happening in the run up to the 1983 election. The writers used some original footage quite effectively here, and I rather got the impression that they were drawing parallels between 1983 and 2010, with references to millions being unemployed and the Falklands War possibly masquerading as the Iraq war (“Labour would never enter such a pointless war” Shaz innocently declared, which Drake nearly argued back against). This week it was essentially Ray’s turn in the spotlight: annoying as he is one of my least favourite characters, but it was a brilliant showdown at the end, and he did save the day so I can’t hate him too much. They ushered in some excellent themes, which were so delicate they had the potential to go disastrously wrong, but the traumas the war heroes have to suffer, along with their families, were handled brilliantly. Which led to the eventual epic ending and Ray actually winning at something.

And how are relations going within the group? Well, Shaz appears to have found a new bloke, which I’m not too happy about. But then it doesn’t seem too successful anyway, so it could be ok. I think now that Shaz and Chris will not reunite but remain good friends, and this upsets me deeply. Slimy bastard DCI Keats CONTINUES to investigate the department, demoralising the team, writing off everyone’s work like it’s awful and not actually doing any himself, but I am pleased to see that DI Drake is definitely not falling for his smarmy charm anymore. He appears to be pure evil but puts a hideous facade on it. It sometimes feels the script writers are stringing out the character of Keats a little too much, and that he has some intrinsic role to play but they introduced him too early… Hunt and Keats continue to hate each other:

“Mano-a-mano, that’s Latin,” says Keats

“Oh you slimy tosspot, that’s Latin and all,” replies Hunt. Good work Hunt.

The team continues to show excellent loyalty to Gene Hunt as they are propelled further towards him due to Keats’ presence, and this continues to be represented each week: this time, by Ray diving into the fire to prove himself.

All in all, a much better episode than last week that touched on some earth-shattering subjects that are still relevant now, and it solidified the team and had some excellent lines. No real developments in the overall story though, but they should come soon.

So, we’ve had Shaz and Ray, and I think it’s Chris’ turn next week, and then hopefully we can start to answer some real questions! Such as…

What’s the significance of the number 6602?

Why do people keep drawing stars?

Who is the mysterious man with half a burnt face?

Did Gene Hunt kill Sam Tyler? And if so, why?!

Later With Jools Holland – 16th April.

Jools is back! And given that it’s nearly festival season, this is a particularly exciting time for good music to be featured on television. I mean good music that’s actually good, not stuff that doesn’t mean anything or just slots into the background.

This week, Jools featured Paul Weller, Marina And The Diamonds, Hot Chip, Gogol Bordello, Polar Bear, Villagers and Paul Rodgers, and, oddly, I found the two most well-known/popular ones (Paul Weller and Marina) were the most disappointing.

Paul Weller – It rather seems like this chap only being accepted nowadays because of his big name – but his music on Jools pretty dull (“indie landfill”?), and he should NOT attempt falsetto. Ever. Does rather sound like someone being strangled. There was nothing special in this performance aside from his name, and, as my watching companion said “You’re not Mogwai, you do not need four guitars on stage”. I was not impressed by this music, and much preferred some of the smaller names who had much more interesting music. If anyone else had done it, it feels like it wouldn’t have got very far at all.

Marina And The Diamonds – So boring! Is she only popular because of her eyes? Good performance, good (but odd) range on voice, but the music is awfully dull. It’s just pop, and there feels like no substance to her music. I was not interested but did watch her performance, but it only confirmed my suspicions that she is just another one of the female artists around at the moment who will be forgotten in a few years and won’t be remember for her musical talents. On the plus side, at least she writes her own stuff, which is more than one can say for people who are just a face, singing the music that someone else wrote for them.

Polar Bear – Only allowed a one song slot! But it was lovely: odd considering I don’t like jazz (I felt this wasn’t really jazz, or at least not jazz I have previously been subjected to), and as Eugene Hutz said, it’s quite courageous to just go with music and no lyrics. I would like to see more of this band – I am intrigued.

Hot Chip – Yes! Bloody yes! They played ‘One Life Stand’, ‘I Feel Better’ and ‘Take It In’ from their latest album, which I hadn’t yet listened to. To my surprise (the only feedback I’d been given was that it wasn’t that impressive or groundbreaking), I found impossibly good melodies, and a smoothly cool performance from what looks like some A-level IT students. This was one of my favourite things this week, along with…

Gogol Bordello – Awesome stuff, huge energy, excellently different but sounding good anyway – different because they’re celebrating their many, many different cultures. It was described by Eugene Hutz as ‘transcontinental rock and roll’, and they were not being different for the sake of it and sounding terrible. Lovely Balkan influence but still appealing music. I would be compelled to go and see them now, which is a change from recent thoughts.

Villagers – I found this chap pretty dull really – it felt like if I practised at the guitar I could probably do it (Anyone could). And why gaffer tape a guitar? Nothing special, and slightly frustrating because he was clearly using up too much room where Gogol Bordello or Polar Bear could be playing more tunes… Just another one of those singer-songwriters playing acoustic guitar.

Next Friday’s line up looks a little dubious, as it features Kate Nash, but only the plus side it does have Jerry Dammer’s and his Spatial AKA Orchestra. Could be interesting…

Mezzo Forte – Seth Lakeman.

Or – Seth “I’ve got freaking awesome guns” Lakeman.

Playing at The Brook in Southampton on the 15th April, it was finally my first experience of live Seth. I’ve been wanting to see him for ages, and I have no idea why it took me so bloody long as he always seems to be touring.

Everything about his music seems to be pretty awesome – he has is one of those rare musicians who can write brilliant songs that are immediately accessible, but also last. They can be listened to again and again, and don’t get boring. I’m not sure if any names of others who can do that actually come to mind… And he really is a musician – this word can be applied so very well to him. Being a violin player (and the violin seeming like such a frail instrument compared to, for example, the guitar), one can always feel slightly on edge when he’s playing as there is such opportunity to get a note wrong or fail completely, but not once did this happen. Indeed, the only minor ailment to his performance was his intensity in one song that started to fray his bow. Did Yehudi Menuhin even manage this? His playing technique is outstanding too – he looks classically trained in his stance and hold, although this seems slightly unorthodox for a folk singer. Throughout the set, he switched from violin to tenor guitar, and somehow managed to sing at the same time as playing the former. The logistics of this always confuse me but he did it brilliantly.

Better still, he appears to be having fun! There’s nothing worse than a moody frontman to bring the audience and backing band down. He interacted with his audience and band, frequently ‘jamming’ with individuals of the band (which includes his brother Sean), and there was a general sense of enjoyment from all there. Good choice of venue too: not too big to give it an empty feel, but cosy enough as it was full.

Starting with ‘The Hurlers’ and ending, before the encore, with just him and his violin playing ‘Kitty Jay’ (wonderful stuff!), Mr Lakeman played lots of new stuff and I am seriously considering buying the next album. A rarity, considering I am hardly ever able to buy albums 😀 It was an excellent live experience, with a combination of good playing, good songs, and a happy ensemble of people. Go see them live!

The only pity about him is that he feels to popular and too big a name for a folk artist. I always thought folk music was about using song to tell people about what was happening to the lambs and chickens, and how some bird threw herself off of a bridge because her true love has to marry someone else – traditional stuff, really, and Mr Lakeman does sing about such things, but shouldn’t folk be in the pub at the end of a long day in the fields, with a pint in one hand and a violin/guitar/hurdy-gurdy etc in the other?