Thursday, 30 August 2012

In which I prepare to go on holiday


As I write this, the rain’s been bucketing down in London. I’m wearing jeans and a jumper and a scarf (a Union flag print scarf, no less). I wore a mac to work, and I sort of regret not having boots on. In August. Ah, the Great British summertime: less great than it is oh so very British.

Which is why I’m almost beside myself with excitement that I will soon be in the blissful state of being that is On Holiday – a state which can not come a second too soon.


Near enough this year's holiday destination as to make me blissfully happy when I look at it. Hurrah.

With just a couple of weeks to go, I’m preparing by conducting the pre-holiday rituals that happen year in, year out, regardless of who I’m holidaying with, and where.

It starts slowly, with the incessant checking of the weather in Holiday Destination. I’ve looked it up twice today already, and now have the location stored on the weather app on the phone. Currently at Ma TW’s house in Italian wine-making country (I know, right? Not just with him for his cooking), it is 29°C, and blazing sunshine. Tomorrow it’s going to be 32°C and blazing sunshine (that’s around 90, Fahrenheit fans). Blissful.

I’ve also begun the tanning process, albeit very gradually (moisturiser with self-tan in is the gift of the beauty gods to the world’s pale Janets). TW might be the sort of person who comes back from two-day press trips on beaches with an enviably deep golden glaze, but not I, and I need to begin preparations early to ensure that I don’t glow like a pasty white beacon out of any holiday snaps.

I’ve started wondering what I’ve done with the swimsuit / European plug adapter / beach bag. Of course, that’s all I’ve done, and not actually been bothered to do the useful bit of the process and look for the stuff. A decision I know I’ll rue come panic-packing time, but still not one that’s going to change before the very last minute.

And then there’s the reading material. I’ve been scouring my Amazon recommendations, several floors of Foyles, and Twitter for the books I’ll need given my average holiday reading rate of 1.1 books per day. In another couple of days, I’ll start to contemplate that this might be the point at which to dust off the Kindle. I’ll then ignore the notion, because “there’s nothing like a book”. There’s also the high probability that I’ll drop said Kindle into the pool or the sea. Or both. (If you have any recommendations, you know where I am. Twitter, probably.)

There’ll be a bit of time desperately raiding the bathroom shelves for suncream and failing to find it, necessitating a trip to Boots where I’ll spend approximately a middling fortune on new suncream. This is, of course, followed by the return home to find that the long-hunted for suncream has grown arms and is happily waving at me from the front of the bathroom shelf.

As we get closer to the day itself, there’ll be mad dashes for clothes that will be hot-weather appropriate despite the British high street stocking nothing but winter coats and gloves; the piling of stuff in the sitting room ready to take and the ensuring alarm that it won’t all fit in the case; the decanting of liquids into those teeny, tiny bottles that will never last a week; and the inevitable panic that I’ve lost my passport, despite it being where it always is.

After all which, I’m going to need a holiday, frankly.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

In which I contemplate younger men


“There’s a lot of it about,” The Equestrienne said one evening last week as we sat in a bar between our offices, each halfway through a glass of something that behooved a midweek evening. “I’ve got a friend in her early thirties with a boyfriend’s in his twenties, and I got asked out by a 24 year-old the other day.”

Chat had, as it almost inevitably does over gin on a Wednesday, turned to boys, and we were discussing the merits (or otherwise) of younger men.

The same subject had cropped up that morning when I’d exchanged tweets with someone bemoaning the fact that an apparently interested chap she’d met the previous weekend had turned out to be rather younger than she.

There will be no date, she tweeted, having eventually discerned his age.

My suggestion that if he was a tempting prospect she should ignore how old he was and go for it anyway fell on deaf ears.

To be fair, before The Writer cropped up on the scene, I had much the same attitude. The men I dated were around my age, if not a few years older (and then some…), and there was little to no way on God’s green one that I would have thought younger men would provide me with any more luck in matters of the heart than their older, if never wiser, counterparts.

Age differences seem to attract disproportionately more attention when the woman in a relationship is older than the man she’s seeing. A chap can install a woman 20 years his junior into his life without so much as a batted eyelid, but when a woman does the same, all sort of eyebrows are raised. Just ask the Sam Taylor-Woods of the world.

My realisation that I had met my very own younger man came on my second date with TW. We’d left a party – very nearly getting run over along with Ronnie Wood and his much younger squeeze (who, admittedly, had raised eyebrows, but because she was young enough to be his great-granddaughter) – at a set of traffic lights near Regents Park, and were wandering, a little squiffily, towards the centre of town to have a late dinner. Quite how we got to the subject, I don’t know, but at some point it in conversation it emerged that TW’s birthday was a couple of weeks later.

“Ah, so how old are you going to be?” I said, taking the opportunity to ask some of the crucial questions we’d not covered – and now I come to think of it, I’m not sure how we’d not covered them – during our mammoth first date.

“Ah, well – how old do you think I’m going to be?” TW said, a little unfairly I now know, as I’ve since learnt that he knew precisely how old I was before we’d met.

“I don’t know,” I said, taking what I thought was an educated guess, even under the influence of all the red wine.

“Er, no, not quite,” he said.

The conversation continued in a mathmetically-decreasing spiral until TW had confessed his age, resulting in my having a minor panic attack yards from a central London tube station.

But, Thai food and – I think – more red wine, and – definitely – takeaway pudding later and I’d got over the surprise and we giggling our way back to TW’s flat in the small hours in a repeat of my hussyishness on our first date the previous weekend.

The rest, to paraphrase the cliché, is the best relationship I’ve ever found myself in. If this is what dating younger men does for a woman, just call me Mrs. Robinson. 

Friday, 24 August 2012

In which I love Borsetshire


It’s been in my life longer than I can remember – always just there, like the many types of tea in the cupboard (English Breakfast; Earl Grey; Earl Grey with rose; Assam; Lady Grey; green…), or the innate love of all things equine. Everything about it is homely and comforting, a reassurance that – come what may – the world is still turning, and everything is in its rightful place.

Personally, I blame my parents. Their love affair with it started – obviously, dur – many years before mine did, and it’s something they’ve passed on to me.

In Familial Home Blonde, life stops between 7.02pm and 7.15pm, six nights a week. If supper’s on the table, the conversation will die away to nothing; the phone will be left to ring; and the cats’ squabbles and demands for food and incapability of deciding which side of the kitchen door they’d like to be on will go ignored until the final theme’s played out.

Because in Family Blonde, The Archers is something of a religion.

It’s an odd choice of deity for a household that doesn’t just discourage, but actively proscribes all television soaps. Coronation Street is prohibited, and Eastenders verboten, but the quaint radio soap about a tiny, fictional village set deep in the English countryside in which escaped cattle and the local cider club reign supreme over the storylines is somehow held sacrosanct. Quite why, I don’t know, but that’s the way it is, and it’s the way it’ll always be.

It’s not obvious listening habitat for a 20-something living in London, working in PR, and (I like to think) relatively on top of what’s going on in the world at large. At first glance, it seems rather the antithesis of a media diet that consists largely of Slates and Atlantics and 99 Problems But a Pitch Ain’t Ones, with a few XOJanes and Financial Timeses and New Yorkers thrown in for good measure.

But The Archers is something more than a soap: it’s an aural comfort blanket. It harks to a time and a place that, even if it isn’t quite completely believable (death by plunge from stately-home roof, anyone?!), is so recognisable as being innately British – and even if only from a vague sense of nostalgia. Listen, even casually, on more than a couple of occasions, and you realise that The Archers is a love letter to Britain and its countryside.


Yes, it touches on contemporary rural debates about mega-dairies, and bovine tuberculosis; and there are plenty of scenes familiar to anyone who’s ever lived in a small village that’s home to a cricket team, or hosts Christmas pantomimes. Some of the characters venture alarmingly close to parody (“Oooh noooooooo!” “Oh do come on, daahling”), some are fiendishly irritating, and Brian the love rat’s total inability to keep it in his pants is something to behold.

But at its heart, The Archers is also about people and their lives and the communities they live in; about a landscape dotted with hedgerows and farmhouses and hay bales; about a green and pleasant land.

And, possibly most importantly of all, the theme tune’s brilliant. Dum di dum di dum di dum… 

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

In which minds need changing


I’ve never published posts from other people here before, but I received an email this morning that I wanted to share, if for no other reason than to hammer home the point that sexual harassment is a real thing for the vast majority of women. That old male politicians and others in positions of power fundamentally don’t understand that fact is something that needs changing – now.

Last night, I stormed out of a dinner party in a rage with tears streaming down my face.  I was in a conversation with a male friend who I love who was trying to explain away Galloway’s comments on Assange.  At one point I ended up yelling and itemising the number of his female friends who have been sexually attacked.

Let me clarify here, I have not been raped.  But I have been assaulted with sex as a goal of the attacker and I have been sexually harassed more times than I can count.  Almost every woman I know has been at the receiving end of some sort of sexually motivated abuse. 

A few weeks ago I was in a meeting when I got a text that one of my best friends had just been attacked on the tube, it was 4 pm.  Two years ago, I was followed, approached and grabbed on the tube, I resisted and asked other passengers for help, only to be ignored when the attacker said I was his drunk girlfriend.  I only got away by diving in to another tube car as the door closed.

Both of us would have been victims of ‘legitimate’ stranger danger rape rather than that of our boyfriends or acquaintances.  In ways, that would have made it easier—as people are able to believe that the baddie in the bushes raped you rather than the neighbour you’ve known since you were ten or the guy you’ve been on a few dates with that you would have probably slept with anyway.  But both of us when recounting the stories repeatedly say what we were wearing… we explain that we were in no way encouraging it.  We justify our right to have been, god forbid, traveling unaccompanied on public transport.

This isn’t meant to be a litany of woe is me and my friends.  Rape, sexual assault, assault with sexual undertones and violence underlying it is a constant threat.  Rape has been used as a weapon against women since the beginning of time.  It is used to tame, silence and demonstrate power over women regularly.  And currently in England and the US, two supposedly educated nations, it is headline news. From Julian Assange to Todd Akin; what is rape rape?  What is “legitimate rape”?  Why don’t these women just roll over and open their legs, whether they are asleep or awake and let us get on with our manly business. 

These aren’t tears of sadness, they are tears of fury.  People wonder why rape is only reported a quarter of the time?  Because the cops and the people on the benches of so-called justice are asking what they were wearing, they are silently asking if it is forcible, legitimate, real, actual, rape.  Or just a misunderstanding.  Or just a little bad sexual etiquette.  Something has to give, the fury and rage that is being expressed on twitter is just the tip of the iceberg.  Women need to come out in force and vote.  And the men that we love, the men that we share our stories of abuse with, the men that stand by us, need to vote too.  Galloway needs to be shamed out of politics.  Assange needs to be prosecuted for the rapes that he's alleged to have committed and Akin needs to resign.  And we need to stop electing Neanderthals that hold the belief that rape is anything other than a heinous act.

Monday, 20 August 2012

In which rape is rape, and Akin is wrong


I don’t even know where to start with Todd Akin’s imbecilic comments yesterday, on abortion; rape; rape’s ‘legitimate’ form (I know. What the actual? I can’t even); and the fact that women apparently have hitherto unknown magical powers which enable our uteri to block any resulting pregnancies.

“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.” So said the illustrious Representative from Missouri.

Because, well… I mean, where does one start when faced with such abject moronicism? Just thinking about such cretinous statements makes me want to spit with rage.

I could argue that ‘ways to try to shut that whole thing down,’ as Akin so charmingly refers to an unwanted pregnancy, don’t exist. Or rather, that they don’t exist in the form of a magical sperm-destroying uterus, but they do in the form of the morning-after pill. But, um, doesn’t he want to ban those too

I could argue that there is no such thing as ‘legitimate’ rape. There’s just rape. Whether it’s by a stranger with a weapon; or in bed by a husband you’ve been with for years: if it’s not consensual, it’s rape. Even though Congressman Akin might think otherwise. (Rape charges “in a real messy divorce” could be used as “a tool and a legal weapon to beat up on the husband,” apparently.)

I could ask, incredulously, how a right-wing Republican in favour of a smaller government and less intervention in people’s lives, could justify government intervention in what women do with their own bodies? Or how on earth the welfare of a two-celled organism could take precedence over the welfare of an abused and traumatised woman? (Although when you consider nowhere in his remarks does Akin mention the woman, only the rapist and the child, it’s sadly quite easy to see where his priorities lie - and it ain’t with her).

I could say that, leaving aside the vile, vile things Akin said and the misogynist frames in which his argument is set, is that the science is against him. It’s an old study, admittedly, but in 1996, a study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology reported that 32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year. (Related: Could we take Akin off the House Science and Technology committee? Like, prontissimo.)
   
But actually, what really concerns me is the precedence comments like these set in the political discourse.

As much as the UK suffers from a rarely-admitted superiority complex over our younger breakaway cousins, we tend to adopt their trends with barely-concealed alacrity: the Starbucks culture, the school prom, everyday elements of our language have all made their way across the pond. And the GOP’s current War on Women and their reproductive rights is something I’m genuinely scared will translate over here too.

Nadine Dorries, whilst (arguably) less completely terrifying than her anti-abortion US counterparts (but not by much), is – I believe – the thin end of the wedge. The more Dorries and her ilk talk about restrictions to abortion, couched in non-alarmist terms, the more anti-choice rhetoric becomes an acceptable part of discourse.

I don’t want to countenance the possibility that one day, if I fall pregnant and – for whatever circumstances – I don’t feel capable of having a child, the choice of a safe and legal termination of that pregnancy won’t be available to me. I don’t want men in the ivory towers of legislation to decide for me whether or not I should be allowed to take the morning-after pill; and I don’t believe the form of contraception I choose to use should be anybody else’s business.

Whilst we might look at these cases with horror and alarm, and thank our lucky stars that we’re not living in an American state with an alarmingly medieval attitude to the personal freedoms of women, I’m not sure that in the UK, we can afford to keep taking for granted our reproductive freedoms. 

Thursday, 9 August 2012

In which I have huge respect for equestrians

Whether it’s misogynist idiots at the nation’s leading newspapers; entirely useless estate agents; or being verbally abused in the course of my day job (Daily Telegraph covering itself in glory there yet again. Sigh), there’s an awful lot that’s had me riled recently.

Today my rant is pony-shaped.

If you’re even a casual consumer of media, you’ll have seen the almighty cock-ups by both The Mirror and The Daily Express yesterday, incorrectly labelling the Dutch dressage team as the gold medal-winning Brits. I appreciate that not everyone was following the team dressage final as obsessively as I was, and not everyone would be able to pick Laura Bechtolsheimer out of a line-up. But I don’t think it’s too much to expect of my national journalists to be able to tell the difference between a home team dressed in smart navy blue, and one COVERED in orange; one with whacking gold medals round their necks, and one sporting bronze.

There’s a plethora of sports at the Olympics that no one’s heard of before, all of which seem at first glance to be a little baffling, if not downright bizarre. Who but the most enthusiastic cyclist had before heard of keirin – the closest a human being comes to the experience of being a greyhound?

And yet it’s equestrianism which seems to be the comedy sport of choice at the 2012 Games, that’s borne the brunt of the jokes, the snide comments, the constant sniping that undermines a sport that, in actuality, is brutally challenging.

In an early round of the men’s gymnastics, I was furious to hear the commentators marvel at what the men were doing, and then go on to say that it wasn’t “just sitting on horses.” I bet that commentator has never been near a horse. Because anyone who has knows full well that – unless you’re four years old and have been plonked for the first time in your life onto a docile, aged, riding school pony – there is no such thing as  “just sitting” on horses, and when it comes to the very highest levels of equestrian competition, the notion is laughable. The flurry of tweets saying that “horse dancing” isn’t a sport imply much the same.

In dressage, you’re sitting astride a half-ton beast with a mind of its own, asking it to perform movements that it wouldn’t naturally have cause to do, with nothing more than the way you’re sitting, and the signals you give it with your arms and legs. Sometimes, you have to ask your horse to perform these movements to music, in front of a crowd of tens of thousands of people. There’s no “just sitting” involved. And that’s before we get to showjumping and eventing, where there are long courses of huge jumps to get over inside a testing time limit.


A rider taking the bank during the cross country phase of the Olympic eventing. Anyone think this is the same as lounging on the sofa? (Pic beautifully taken by, and shamelessly stolen from, Best Mate)

And that’s just one of the ridiculously ill-informed snipes made at the sport. Others have included that it’s just for the rich and elite, which isn’t true. Of course having access to financial resources makes getting into the sport easier – but I’d argue that’s the same for rowing, sailing, cycling: anything where you need expensive pieces of kit to be able to get involved.

Then there’s the lack of respect shown to the riders who, contrary to apparently popular belief, are committed athletes. Two of the British team have previously broken their necks, and are still riding at the highest levels. And yet the press is far more interested in their relations. At a recent press conference, photographers desperate to get a picture of Zara Phillips, asked “the bloke” to stand in the middle: that “bloke” was William Fox-Pitt – the three-times world eventing number 1 (a position he currently holds), nine-times British number 1, and four-time Olympian with two Olympic silvers and a bronze. I can’t begin to imagine that Sir Chris Hoy would be referred to as “that bloke” in a similar situation somehow.

And it’s the same for the fans: Marina Hyde wrote a particularly chippy piece in the Guardian after the eventing on the attendance of the ‘country crowd’, with the ‘booming voices’ of an audience that was ‘more-than-usually expert’. I was unaware that fans particularly dedicated to their sport should be belittled for their attendance and support. Personally I think it would be a better use of time to celebrate the fact. When I went to Greenwich at the weekend to see the showjumping qualifiers, I was sat in front of a girl who can’t have been more than about eight or nine. As a Jordanian rider had three fences down, the little girl turned to her mother and gave a very grave critique, focusing on the dangers of taking an incorrect line. Surely, when we hear so much about the dangers of obesity and sedentary lifestyles, such enthusiasm for a sport is something to be cherished.

Our equestrian teams have now won medals in each Olympic discipline: we’ve had two three golds and a silver so far, with the individual dressage final still to come. Charlotte Dujardin holds gold medals for both team and individual events, having been riding at Grand Prix level for just 18 months. I’m not asking the media and non-fans to love the sport, or follow it obsessively: just afford it the same respect as you do all the others. 

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

In which I use pony shampoo

It was inevitable, really. The whole bloody project is her fault, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when, at a party a few weeks ago, The Redhead introduced me to her to friends as, “Blonde. She’s using pony shampoo.”

Having just given another of the hostesses a brief tutorial in how better to care for her rampant tomato plant, it’s unsurprising that I was looked at askance by the chap in front of me, eyeing me for all the world as if I were one of the world’s hippier tree-huggers (for the record: I’m not. I’m really, truly not).

“Right. And is that…”

“Shampoo for horses, yes.”

“And you’re using it on your horse?”

“No. On myself.”

“Ah. That’s what I thought she meant.”

It’s been a couple of months since I embarked upon Project Pony Shampoo, to the amusement of friends; voyeuristic curiosity of more women than care to admit it; and the intense mockery of The Writer.

Early results were promising. A good dollop of the appropriately named Mane ‘n’ Tail produced the best lather I’ve yet seen in grotty London water, and it had a pleasingly clean – and reassuringly unhorsey – fragrance. The conditioner was slightly alarming in its yellowness, but nothing that can’t be overcome once you get used to it. Most importantly, it seemed to produce clean, shiny hair.

Of course, that didn’t stop the ridicule from a highly sceptical TW.

“You’re sleeping outside on hay tonight,” he said as I stood in front of the mirror after the first use, my freshly-washed hair wrapped in the most stylish of towel turbans.

“Horses don’t sleep on hay,” I said, trying not to rise to the bait whilst applying eyeliner, fearing a terribly wiggly outcome. “They eat hay.”

“Don’t care. You’re sleeping on hay. Pegasus.”

Thankfully, that early attempt has since been followed up with some rather wittier repartee from my best beloved.

“My client said my hair looked nice today,” I said when I returned home one night a few weeks into the experiment.

“Well, it does,” TW said, as he stirred supper. He looked up at me. “And so do your hindquarters. Soon you’ll be Best in Show.”

And, one morning as we got ready for work:

TW: “Mmm, your hair smells nice.”
Me: [Pause]
TW: “You're waiting for an equine pun, aren't you? Well I'm done neigh-saying.”

He’s not, of course. But, in the name of science (and long, glossy locks), I’ve ignored the pony-shaped puns and kept going, and am now almost at the end of the bottle. And the continued teasing has become far easier to take now that other people have started to notice that there’s something different.

Because clients, colleagues and friends have all recently remarked that my hair’s been looking shinier, or thicker, or longer. And whilst I remain unconvinced of the ability of pony shampoo to make one’s hair grow faster, I’m persuaded that mine is now simply in much better condition: it’s stronger and healthier and softer, and breaks far less easily, meaning it’s growing longer. I’m a fully-paid up fan, and bottle two is currently on its way.

Of course, not everyone’s as evangelical about pony shampoo as I am.

As we lay in bed one night a week or so ago, TW turned to me: “I love you, you know. You’re my best friend; the love of my life…”

“Oh, that’s lovely, I love you too.”

“…And my noble steed.”

Charming.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

In which Andrew Brown writes sexist nonsense



I fear that the successes of women athletes in the recent days of the Olympics, and perhaps the general progress made by all women in the last 100 years, have somewhat passed you by.

Women now – in the UK at least – enjoy the right to vote, to own property, to be paid the same as men for doing the same job (ostensibly. Don’t get me started). And these are the first Games ever in which every nation has sent female athletes to compete. These are people at the very peak of their fitness and ability, doing things with bodies – and mental fortitude – that the rest of us can only laud from our sofas.

And yet you seem to be stuck in some Godforsaken past where our main purpose is to remain in the background, cossetted, with no other purpose than to appear feminine and attractive for the pleasure of men. Do fuck off, would you?

The utter drivel you wrote about Gemma Gibbons, the frankly inspirational athlete who today won an Olympic silver medal, was misogynist, supercilious nonsense.

Yes, Gemma and her opponents showed pure, naked, fierce, animalistic aggression: that’s what they do – they’re professional athletes. That they’re female doesn’t come into it. And if women showing such passion for their careers makes you feel unsettled, then maybe you need to examine your own prehistoric attitudes rather than putting your sexist fingers to the keyboard and writing about those attitudes, because your slightly breathless – and almost certainly incorrect – references to these athletes’ soft limbs is so leering as to be entirely repulsive.

Here’s a thing: I bet Gemma Gibbons couldn’t give a flying fuck whether you think she should be competing or not. I very much doubt, with the large silver medal hanging round her talented neck, she cares whether you think her sport is wholesome or not. To paraphrase the words of another brilliant athlete from earlier this week – she doesn’t fight so you can feel good about yourself.

Your not-very-well-disguised undertone is that you would prefer these little women, these pretty little darlings who shouldn’t be worrying about nasty things like professional sport, to be back in their pinnies in their kitchens, ironing their husbands’ shirts and concentrating on providing a son.

So no, Mr. Brown, your cretinous piece doesn’t just sound sexist: is IS sexist. There are no two ways about it. You’re saying that women shouldn’t compete in professional judo because it isn’t ladylike. If that isn’t sexist and condescending, I don’t know what is. And you can’t laugh it off by admitting that, chuckle, what you’re saying probably doesn’t sound particularly appropriate for intelligent company. Because it’s not funny.

I suggest you try rewriting your ‘article’ to suggest that it’s not ‘wholesome’ for black or gay athletes to compete in sport. Not so amusing now, is it?

Blonde.


-- 
UPDATE: I sent a version of this to the Telegraph’s head of comment, and received a very swift response. I don’t agree with him, but I do appreciate the fact that he took the time to address the issue, thus:

Many thanks for your email. I do appreciate you getting in touch. First, let me say that it certainly wasn't Andrew's intention to undermine the fantastic successes of women athletes over the past week, which we've all been celebrating. And, in truth, and despite your very clear anger, I don't really feel the piece does that, or that it merits all the accusations you make.

Andrew gave an honest and frank reaction to watching a specific event that gave him pause for thought. In his second paragraph, he admits that those thoughts "will probably sound appallingly sexist"; he asks whether it would bother him to see one of his own daughters taking part in such an event - answer: " I'm really not sure. Possibly. On the other hand I might be proud of her skill."; and he adds: "I know full well that, as a bloke, it's none of my business, but it's what I thought and felt."

This doesn't strike me as being either misogynistic or prehistoric. And shouldn't we should be free to say what we think and feel, as you have so eloquently in your email to me and in your own blogpost?

It's a busy Friday today, there's a newspaper to get out (including yet another brilliant women's victory in the rowing to report...) and so I don't have time to go back and forward on this, but I did want to respond.

All the best.


 

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