Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Powerful Women - You go Girl for teenagers

There are many ways I describe myself but ‘Mother of Three Teenage Girls’ is generally not one I use in any type of company as I fear it leads onlookers to look for signs of general wear and tear and a reliance upon the bottle.  However there are occasions where I have to own up to one of my prime roles in life.  You don’t have to be the voice of authority, sorry I mean walking ATM, for a bunch of teen Drama Queens to be aware of the types of female image that girls (and boys) are bombarded with.  The media is full of women whose main attributes are either their physical appearance or the possession of a  relentless drive for celebrity at all costs.

BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour is one of my regular listening stops and I was so invigorated and inspired when I came across the programme’s ‘Woman’s Hour Power List’. 

Using a mixture of listeners’ suggestions and a panel of judges they have complied a list of who they judge to be the 100 most powerful women in the UK.  The Queen heads the list, hard to argue with that one really in terms of power that can be wielded, but after that it is a glorious medley of women from law, science, medicine, the media, academia, business, forensic medicine, the police force, fashion designers, IT entrepreneurs, basically every field of modern day life.  As ever I am sure there will be arguments about who has been left out, or not considered, but even as it stands I think it is a testament to the drive and ability of those women and I found myself clicking on individual women’s names and marvelling at their accomplishments.   The photos that accompany each woman’s name together with a snapshot biography portray a diverse selection of woman whose common attributes are the intelligence, interest and competence that shine out of their eyes rather than the state of their hair, faces and chests. There are undoubtedly those who combine model type looks with achievement and there is a fair scattering of the glamour puss brigade for it has to be said Victoria Beckham and Stella McCartney are on the list, but how nice to see them celebrated for achievements rather than fame, notoriety or as part of a couple.

I wish ‘Woman’s Hour’ would produce a poster, complete with photos of their Top 100 as I would be ordering numerous copies and sticking it anywhere a teenage girl’s eye might light.  So let’s toss out ‘Hello’, apart from obviously at the hairdressers where it’s required reading, and try to make sure that for our daughters that the phrase ‘naked ambition’ means hitting the right kind of list rather than starring in a dodgy clip on the internet without your clothes on.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The expat merry-go-round, what goes around, comes around

I am coming to the conclusion the phrase ‘Global Village’ is an increasingly apt description of the world, particularly if you are riding the expat merry go round of life.

I am currently overjoyed that great friends from our days outside New York rocked up in Sydney a month ago and live in hallooing distance.  Meanwhile another fabulous friend with whom I have shared coffees and wines in Sydney and London is now living in Amsterdam  (step forward The Dutchess - http://ausdutchess.blogspot.com.au) and we are constantly discovering links through the people she meets.  Based on the way things are panning out it is only a matter of time until we work out we are married to the same man as so far the combination of her new friends and my brother and my friends are providing spooky 2 degrees of separation type connections between the pair of us.

I just love Anita Renfroe and her brilliant gallop through the William Tell Overture complete with all of the words those of us blessed or cursed with children (your assessment of the state may depend on which side of the maternal witching hour and first wine of the day you are) use everyday.

The verse, “Be Polite, Make a friend, Don’t forget to share” could be the Expat mantra – you land in a new town, new country, new school yards, new scary Parent Teacher president and the savvy serial mover mum immediately volunteers, joins in, takes a deep breath and throws herself into playground conversations with complete strangers.  Faced with walking into a room full of new faces, tempting though it is for Husband and I to huddle in a corner, clutching a glass of warm white wine, whilst exchanging tense smiles and missing the friends of the last place, we have now adopted a type of divide and conquer method where we split and try and work our way through the room in an attempt to kick start the finding the bosom friends we know are out there, process.

The bizarre thing however is that during the getting to know you process we almost inevitably find there’s some connection – or that we are bumping into people whom we knew years ago in a different city/continent/life. 

Each time we have moved country kind friends have come up with siblings, friends, ex next door neighbours or penpals who live in that city and provided me with names and numbers that I write dutifully down at the back of my address book – and I can now guarantee that within the first six months I will have come across those scribbled down names, often in the most bizarre circumstances and will blurt out mid conversation “Oh I know who you are.  Your Aunty Mavis gave me your number”. 

As a result of all this bumping into each other serendipity, I have come to the conclusion that you are almost guaranteed your past will be catching up with you big time – and as I say to the Drama Queens in my own personal Mom-mantra, it’s not worth being mean, aside from the morals of the situation, other women are hard wired to remember these things and you don’t want to run into someone in Sydney whose first thought on seeing you is “That’s the mean woman from London/Hong Kong/New York/Mumbai/Dubai ……….”  I’d much rather be remembered as the mad woman who knew Aunty Mavis!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Seven Year Itch

First it’s the car, now it’s the dishwasher.  This has been a seven year problem in the making, relating to the fact that when we moved to Sydney we embarked on that ritual beloved of all international movers, the kitting out of the new house and based on our moves around the globe there are a number of mundane household things you can guarantee without fail. 

Firstly, whatever curtains and blinds with which you may have kitted out your last house, they won’t fit in the new house, or if by some miracle they do fit a window you can be sure that the Winnie-the Pooh curtains that graced the nursery in Hong Kong are going to only add to an unfavourable first impression on the neighbours in Sydney if you stick them up in the sitting room – though what am I talking about no one does proper curtains in Sydney- it’s all shutters no, dear – so the dancing Winnies might as well be relegated to the back of the spare room wardrobe along with the Thanksgiving decorations you can’t bear to throw out.

Second rule of domestic disharmony is that whatever electrical appliances you have they are going to be too large, too small, or just won’t work in new country without the attachment of bulky convertors or in extremis, your own personal generator.

As a result of the second rule, when we arrived in Sydney seven years ago we embarked upon a spending spree – hardly the joyous occasion those word imply, as we were after all equipping ourselves with car, fridge, dishwasher and washing machine rather than shoes, jewels and glorious fripperies.

And lo and behold it now becomes clear the seven year itch is less of social disease involving males of fickle nature and more of a rampaging epidemic affecting household goods and chattels. The car was the first to succumb and now requires a surgical lightness of touch on the ignition key to achieve lift off,  involving turning key forward and then very, very gently moving it fractionally back – impatience on this front has led to some spectacular stalls/dead halts in the midst of traffic.  The dishwasher acting in sympathy has thrown German efficiency out with the dishwater as it were and is now flashing error codes that even the maker professes not to have heard of (surely not).  I feel like lining up the fridge and washing machine and demanding “Who’s next to go?  Hands up” – would include Husband in line up but feel that might be a dangerous manoeuvre.

An outing last night to the Outdoor Cinema at the Botanics to see ‘The Sweeney’, was just the antidote needed to all the domestic drama.  In an effort to prod me into producing a best seller, the man’s got to dream after all, Husband once pointed out what he felt was a winning formula – car chase, sex and a gun all within first 5 pages or 5 minutes if we are talking film – and have to say based on this criteria ‘The Sweeney’ was a winner being an action packed, clasp edge of seat, or if you are me, peer at screen through small gap between fingers, type movie.  Bet none of those glamorous female detectives would take any nonsense from their appliances – on which note I’m off to deliver a good white- goods- kicking before the ritual measuring of hole and expensive trudge round the shops.