Tuesday, 19 May 2009

The return of the shoulder pad

Fashion is a cycle. Trends start off on the catwalk and slowly begin to emerge on the high street where the fashion conscious pick them up and advertise them to the masses.

I'm sure many girls, myself included, have heard their mother's say: "I had a pair of them in my day". Each time I come to hear this or something along those lines, my reaction is more or less the same. It is highly laced with disdain, disbelief and a thought of "Yeah right!".

As I get older, I realise that mothers usually know a thing or two about what they say. As hard it is to admit, a mother's advice is worth listening to. When I get older still, I should be able to admit that without any haste.

My mother often tells me to wear a jacket when I go out with less than appropriate clothes on, but I always think I know better. Later finding myself freezing cold in a taxi queue, I wish I had listened.

In the true nature of fashion, this season sees a throwback to the eighties and the return of the shoulder pad.

As shocking as it is true, the shoulder pad has made its timely return. It may not be a universal trend like in the eighties, but designers have been parading their models up and down the catwalk complete with protruding shoulders.
Designers such as Balmain have debuted their S/S 2009 collections and the fashion troops have taken their picks. Victoria Beckham and Kate Moss have recently been seen wearing shoulder enhancing Balmain pieces - some more fashion credible than others, you may agree.
Nevertheless, daring designs get noticed. It may mean that the shoulder pad trend could find its way onto the high street and onto the radars of the high fashion troopers.

Personally, I might give this one a miss. First time round in the eighties, it left much to be desired and this time, although more structured than the removable shoulder pad, this S/S trend is where I think I will draw the line. If I get really desperate, I could always find one of my mother's authentic 1980s cast-offs.

Monday, 18 May 2009

A state of panic and humour

With every sniffle, cough and sneeze comes the inevitable jibe about swine flu. A serious matter at heart, but not surprisingly, it has become a target for jokes and unecessary panic.

I have heard more than a few jokes about the current worlwide health situation in recent weeks. Some more funny than others, but fundamentally, I wonder, should we all be more worried? Or are these jibes simply a cover up to the sincere panic felt across the nation?

I wouldn't say I was particularly worried about swine influenza. I have thought about it and I am aware of the symptoms. But my day to day life is not spent in confinement worrying about the possibility of contracting the illness.

It is times like this when people begin to question society, the state of mind of its citizens and whether perspective is something which is taken a bit too lightly. Do people get into a state of panic too easily?

Swine flu has been confirmed in 37 countries accross the world. There have been deaths in four countries; Mexico (where the illness is said to have stemmed from), Canada, Costa Rica and the US. There are currently 101 confirmed cases in the United Kingdom, none of which have resulted in death. The NHS advises people to maintain their personal hygeine by thoroughly washing their hands at various intervals throughout the day. Anti-bacterial hand gel gains extra brownie points. Although there have been many pictures of people wearing face masks, the health service in the UK says that this is not neccesary unless you are treating a patient in a hospital who is showing the symptoms of the flu strain.

The first cases of the disease stemmed from Mexico, which is currently still the worst affected area in the world. As the name suggests, it is usually an illness found in pigs, but a recent development of the virus has become accustomed to human dwelling. However, reports show that the death toll there is "less than feared". Good news as far as good news goes in this case. Although the severity of swine flu hasn't yet been established, health and government officials in Mexico have ordered a five day shut down in an attempt to contain the disease. Countries outside of Mexico have not experienced effects as extreme as those found in Mexico, but the risk is still there and warnings that every precaution should be taken in prevention are imminent.
People should be cautious, but should not let the potential infection of swine flu rule their lives.
The possibility of a pandemic still stands, but a state of national panic is not in order. Although the jokes which circulate rapidly via text and email could seem uneccesary and crude, they could actually do some good in the current situation as a diversion therapy, a temporary cure for the fear of swine flu.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Je t'aime Blackpool?

Think sophisticated culture, a tasteful ambiance and a place where class, elegance and poise are all regular phrases used amongst the inhabitants.

This is what Blackpool will have to offer by 2021, according to a new video posted on YouTube as a promotional tool to attract tourists to the area.

The video shows Blackpool's finest landmarks and people speaking with French accents. Well, there's not that much difference between Blackpool tower and the Eiffel tower, lets face it. Throw in a Parisian drag queen and we are good to go.

Blackpool is a feature of the Fylde coast, which plays host to about ten million visitors per year, but the local council wants to increase this figure and is doing so through the 90 second video entitled "Je t'aime", meaning 'I love you'. How many people really love Blackpool, I can't help but wonder.

A place which is great for a dose of tack, sugary snacks, a ride on the waltzer and a cabaret show, but a place where the affluent dine and come for regular holidays? Only time will tell.

Blackpool council has launched the Talbot Gateway Project to drastically improve the areas around the North Pier and Blackpool North station. The project, which is currently in the planning application process is due to start in 2011 and is anticipated to be completed by 2021.

Having been to Blackpool on two occasions, I feel that the classic British holiday destination may be stuck in a bit of a rut. A revamp of the area might do some good and indeed attract more visitors, but the tacky charm of the promenade might be what people are really looking for.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Jamie to tackle wieght issues across the pond:

I just came across a rather interesting and timely article in The Independent. Jamie Oliver, The Naked Chef turned healthy food ambassador is putting his work with school dinners on hold and travelling across the pond to the US to focus an the hearty appetites of the Americans.

The "obese" city, which has yet to be named, will receive Jamie Olivers' treatment with thanks to the ABC Network which has hired Jamie to cast his healthy eating spell on the unbeknown residents.

But does he know what he's let himself in for? Jamie could find the citizens of small town America a bit different from his recent projects including 'Jamie's School Dinners' and Jamie's Ministry of Food'. The USA is the fattest major nation in the world and with obesity being the most significant social health problem, the challenge looks set to be tough. In the US alone, 119 million people are classed as obese, that's about a third of American adults, compared to 24 percent of adults in the UK.

However, Oliver isn't a nobody in the States. He is quite well known as his British TV shows are screened there on the Food Network. And his books haven't done too bad over there either, not that I have ever took interest in reading one.

It has been said that Jamie's inspiration for a show in the US at this current time came from the election of "slim line" President Obama, who has reportedly planted a kitchen garden in the grounds of the White House. So there you go. Obama grows veg and Jamie Oliver bids to tackle the overweight population of the nanny-state.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Choose university living:

Life moves fast. In no way do I see myself as a philosopher, but as my first year of University comes to an end, I find myself pondering the future.

These are the best years of your life. One of which is nearly over with a mere blink of the eye. This year has been eventful, filled with cherished memories that reduce me to fits of giggles just at the thought. No one will take that away.

The scary thing is how fast it has all happened. It seems like five minutes ago that I was moving into my flat as a Fresher, not knowing a soul and fearing what might come next. Now, I move out of the same flat in a matter of weeks carrying with me many more things that I came in with (an expanded collection of clothes included).

University changes people. Myself included. To a certain extent anyway, and I believe that these changes are usually for the better. I have met some exceptions, however. No one's perfect.

So, as I was sitting in my friends bedroom, Lily Allen playing in the background, I found time to think about my first year of University coming to a conclusion. I noticed a poster, a rather amusing and 100% true poster about life at University.
It presented a list of things, which I now know to be inevitable activities for the average student and after a year of living under this stereotype, I can admit to doing a few of the things mentioned. Some of the included being: 'choosing to sniff-test clothes to see if they are wearable', 'choosing left over take-aways for breakfast' (gross when you think about it afterwards, but so good at the time), 'choosing a new lover to replace the one you left at home' and the most stereotypical, 'choosing to increase your alcohol tolerance level'.

Amongst the many that I have experienced, there are others that I haven't and some that I never will. Choosing to sleep with a lecturer to get top marks being a firm "no".

University is a way of life. It is different to anything that I have experienced before and to anything that I probably have yet to experience. It's a time when you can do things, get away with them and put it down to being a tear-away student.

Personally, I would recommend University to the masses. Going past the major occupational benefits, Uni is the the time in your life when you will discover more about yourself (and others; good and bad) than ever before.