Tuesday, 7 July 2009

True confessions: The high street workout

There's nothing like a bit of retail cheer. I went shopping with my mother's bank card today (she was there too, I'm no criminal) and enjoyed a bit of retail therapy, for the first time in quite a while.

Not only is the joy that is shopping, a joy, but I realised that a good hard day's worth of trawling the rails is just like a workout at the gym (right?) and it is much more enjoyable.

I am not a gym person. In fact, I would probably go as far as to say that I hate the gym. The repetative motions of the fitness equipment and the Clubland archive CDs playing in the background, no thanks. Now, bicep curls with filled shopping bags or speed walks towards the shoe department, that is way more like it.

So, my summer wardrobe is looking much more satisfying and I am ready to show off my new additions with pride. Holiday shopping is the prime thing to be doing right now. The Summer sales are on and if you are brave enough to wait till the last minute to buy your sun-worshipping gear, then now is definitely the time to do it. It is the worst when the dress you love and haven't got round to wearing yet, swiftly appears on the 'half price and under' rail. My advice, hold off till the sales are in swing and then go mad, if that's what your're in to of course. I found one of my star buys, an oversized denim shirt, in H&M men's department sale, Gok would be proud.

My favourite shop of the day: Dorothy Perkins. I rarely go into Dotty P's, but everytime I do I find some really nice things. Hence this is where most money was spent this afternoon.

DP have launched a new range, Dorothy Perkins Collection. It consists of high end fashion pieces, at high street prices. Perfection. The range, including embellished waistcoats (key pice for this season), studded minis and ripped acid-wash denim, is only available in 30 UK stores and online.

One particular piece caught my eye (well I liked them all, but what can you do?). A denim, cut-out body-con dress. At £45 it is high street price, but my recession busted and student loan maxed purse strings couldn't stretch thus far. If anyone is feeling kind, channel the energy here please :)

Monday, 6 July 2009

True confessions: my cyber-space accomplice

Having spent the last week interning at a local newspaper, I became again accustomed to the nine to five lifestyle of early mornings and regular sleep patterns. Now that that particular project has come to a close, I am again faced with dilemmas of how to spend my days.

Today, after a substantial break, I brought myself to do some fitness practise on the Nintendo Wii Fit. The last time I did this, it was the Christmas holidays when chocolate, turkey and Xmas pudding were my friends. Everyone gains weight over Christmas, right? Well, according to my new, more technological friend, I am the objection to that rule. I was told by the strict and bossy cyber-space cretin (for anyone who doesn’t have a Wii, it talks to you and tells you what to do. If you’re nice to it, it is nice to you and vice versa. On this occasion I was a part of the vice versa scenario) that I have to work harder and that I have gained weight since my last visit to Wii Plaza. The tone of the cretin was definitely writhed with sarcasm. And that is not me trying to pretend that what I heard was not true. But if I am seeking motivation, a sarcastic pre-programmed “motivator” handing out fitness tips left, right and centre is certainly not my preferred choice.

Saying that, I did partake in a thirty minute round of virtual aerobics, yoga and hula-hooping, which turned out to be more fun than expected. I later took my non-virtual pet out for a long and tiring walk, which I believe adds up to more than enough exercise for one day. It might not be nine to five fitness, but it is enough to fill up the time in my otherwise free days. The wonders of technology, eh?

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Say "I do" and wave goodbye to life as you know it

Imagine the summer sun, sandy beaches, crashing waves and the hustle and bustle of holiday-makers enjoying the escape from their ordinary day to day lives. Then think of all of this and add into it church bells, marriage nuptials and the law-binding "I do's" to the seemingly celebrated occasion. Think again.

Every year, hundreds if not thousands of young girls and boys, often at schooling age, are forced into marriage by over-bearing parents. It happens in the UK as much as it happens elsewhere in the world. Not just in areas of the Middle East as often stereotypically believed. The government's Forced Marriage Unit has launched a new initiative into schools to raise awareness of the situation.

It has been uncovered in recent years that many young men and women, who go on Summer holidays with family are destined to never return. The end of their schooling career and the end of life as they know it. The reasoning behind these events will differ from case to case, but the utter negligence of the individual's own prerogative remains the same. I find this abhorrent.

What should be an exciting trip abroad, an escape from home life, turns into a scheme whereby young women and men are forced into a commitment for the gain of what? Money? Visas? Quiet satisfaction that the child is off the parents' hands? It is an issue which should be free from cultural sensitivity and should be seen as child abuse. Abuse in the way of taking away the rights of a person and coercing them into a pre-planned map of their lives.

Last year, 1,600 cases of forced marriage were reported to the UK government, but less than half of these cases were intervened. It is estimated that there are 5,000 cases each year, but with so many happening behind closed doors, it is impossible to ascertain an exact figure. Something which really creates a sordid perspective of the situation.

The Forced Marriage Unit has uncovered a new guidance scheme into schools urging the schools to identify signs of possible forced marriages ahead of the holidays.
The possibility that some students may not return to school in September for that very reason is the driving force behind this project. The new guidance calls on teachers to play a greater preventative role. Whilst I agree with this, it seems ironic that one minute teachers are told to have purely platonic relations with their students, while the next they are asked to attempt an intervention into a life of wedded bliss, or rather 'un-bliss'. Next we will surely see an aspect of the human rights movement and health and safety regulations, right? The way of the modern world. Full of moral contradictions.

The new regulations are in place to offer a support system for any student involved in such occurrences. An expert told the BBC that there is no culture and no religion whereby forced marriage should be acceptable or indeed is acceptable.

The next time you enjoy the summer sun, the sound of the crashing waves and hear echoes of distant church bells, spare a thought to the young bride or groom who somewhere is saying goodbye to their future with those two simple words.