Are you a glasses wearer? How do you feel about it?

I wear glasses, and have for over 15 years. I’ve also had two children. Clearly then, I’ve had sex at least twice in my life, so I can vouch for the fact that some men do actually make passes at bespectacled women. Does it put people off though? Do glasses make a difference to how fanciable you find someone?

"glasses"

Would these glasses put you off?

When I was younger I felt pretty uncomfortable about wearing my glasses. In fact, despite having a pair from about the age of 13, I didn’t wear them at school, college or university until I was 19. Needless to say there was an awful lot of squinting involved. Part of this was a crippling self-consciousness that didn’t need fuelling, but mainly it was down to the fact that my glasses were classic NHS prescription specs – I was unpopular enough at school anyway with my geeky ways, I really didn’t need glasses to reinforce the stereotype.

During my late teens and early twenties, I was still pretty vain, and would regularly sacrifice the power of sight on a night out. It  did increase my hit rate, but how much of this was due to me appearing more attractive, and how much was simply that I couldn’t see to make an informed decision? I suspect the latter, along with a good dose of Peach Schnapps and lemonade.

Nowadays I’m more at ease with my short-sightedness, but still from time to time if I’m going somewhere fancy I’ll put in contact lenses instead. They hurt my eyes, and make me blink about 20 times a minute, but for some reason this feels worth it. It only happens about once a month at most, and I’ve bought a stash of daily disposables online, so at least it’s not pricey vanity.

What do you reckon? Have I been unnecessarily vain all my life, or do people really judge a glasses wearing book by its cover?

Photo credit – Paul Stevenson

 

 

I’ve been playing netball since January. It was, like many of the new ‘hobbies’ I take up, a bit of a whim, but much to the surprise of all my family, not least myself, netball is a hobby that has stuck.

Something happens to me when I play netball that doesn’t happen with anything else I do. I’m sure for lots of people who play sport regularly this is nothing new, but I can honestly say that until netball, not in 34 years did I find a sport that made me feel this way, so to me it’s something worth talking about.

"netball"

Someone that isn’t me playing netball

When I play netball, my head empties of everything else.

This in itself is an achievement, as I normally find it extremely hard to think of just one thing at a time for more than about 30 seconds. Even writing this I’m half compiling a shopping list in my head, half watching Wimbledon, half fancying a cup of tea… You get the idea.

When I play netball though, there is nothing else.

I don’t notice it so much while I’m playing, but I know it happens, because within minutes of leaving the court I feel all the thoughts flood back in again. ‘Oh!’ I think to myself. ‘There you are!’

Normally I’m pretty lazy, but when I play netball, my body sprints and jumps without me having any say in the matter. Half way into the session, I am sweating, red-faced and breathless, but I don’t want to stop. Last night, when there were too many teams to all play at once, I waited impatiently on the sideline for my turn, puffing and panting and rubbing the sweat from my face.

When I play netball I don’t think about how I look, or what I’m wearing, or even really how good I am – I just think about getting the ball, and scoring a goal.

When I’m doing other things, I always have an awareness of time, but when I play netball, the end always sneaks up on me – ‘Really? That can’t be an hour already?’

It’s no wonder really is it that the netball fade has lasted longer than the origami animals?

Teenage mums get a bum deal don’t they? If you listen to The Daily Mail, teenage pregnancy is the root of all evil, costing the economy millions in benefits and bringing about the downfall of society. Generally, teenage pregnancy is felt to be a Bad Thing.

But is it?

Being a teenage mum is subject to a massive amount of stereotyping, but is it really the young mums who are costing us all the cash?

Having children when you’re young is perfectly natural. You body is better equipped generally to cope with pregnancy at a younger age, and recovers more quickly too. Postponing childbirth into your thirties and even forties is a very modern phenomena, and one, it could be argued, that has more serious implications health wise, for both mother and baby, than teenage pregnancy will ever have.

Studies have shown than pregnant women under 18:

  • Are more likely to have a normal vaginal delivery
  • Have lower rates of maternal and perinatal morbidity

Pregnant mums over 35 however have an increased risk of:

  • Gestational diabetes and hypertension
  • Placenta previa
  • Low birth weight
  • Prematurity

If you are having a baby and you are over 35, your risk of miscarriage doubles, and your baby has a 1 in 400 chance of Downs Syndrome.

All of these complications have a cost, both financial and physical. Keeping a premature baby in special care for example costs over £1,000 a day, and that’s a lot of housing benefit…

Is it really OK for older mums to pass judgement on teenagers, when their pregnancies are not only risking the health of their babies, but also costing us thousands of pounds in additional health care?

Dr Susan Bewley, of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London, agrees that middle-aged mums are putting a huge strain on the NHS as they are more likely to face problems conceiving, suffer pregnancy complications and have premature babies.

Dr Bewley told the Sunday Times: “Middle-age pregnancy is a public health problem because women en masse are moving out of childbearing and that brings preventable disease and stress with it. Middle-age pregnancy has complications in the same way as teenage pregnancy. We have policies to address teenage pregnancy but not middle-age pregnancy.”

Suddenly teenage pregnancy doesn’t look like such a bad option.

When you think of the beauty brand Dove, what does it mean to you?

If the answer is ‘nothing at all’, this post is probably not going to fascinate you to be honest. You might have more of a laugh reading this one about me getting a smear test instead. If you’re intrigued though, read on.

Dove are currently running an exhibition, exclusively for Dove facebook fans, to encourage women to showcase what the beauty brand means to them.  All you have to do is come up with a creative design that incorporates the iconic bird image and that has emotional resonance for you – from a place that inspires you, to a person who makes you feel beautiful.

"Dove bird logo"

The Dove Bird in full flight

I do use Dove products, and have ever since I was a teenager. When I think of Dove I think of something very simple and pure, and I guess it’s this purity that Dove are trying to capture. Dove’s message after all is that beauty isn’t about complicated beauty regimes and treatments, or difficult diets and layers of make-up, beauty is really about something simple – you.

Here’s a little video that tells you a bit more about the exhibition:

 

The personalised designs can be a photograph, drawing or graphic incorporating the Dove bird – the more creative the better.  Once digitally submitted, the designs will be showcased for fans to enjoy and ‘like’, with the most likes of each week being celebrated on the Facebook wall. The first 100 entries will receive a unique set of 10 printed postcards featuring their bespoke design to share with friends, so why not visit the Dove facebook page now and get creative?

“The Dove By You Exhibition is a chance for our loyal fans to celebrate their creativity with one another.  Real Women have always been at the heart of everything we do, and this new Facebook activity gives them a platform to show just what Dove means to them.” says Ali Fisher, Dove Marketing Manager. “For many of us, the Dove bird has been a symbol in our lives for as long as we can remember. It’s a symbol synonymous with what Dove cherishes most, the celebration of Real Women and Real Beauty.”

“I don’t believe in God, but I miss him….” wrote Julian Barnes in his book ‘Nothing to be frightened of’.

I heard this quote on the radio this afternoon and it really struck a chord with me. People talk about the ‘God shaped hole’, but this sentence to me perfectly summed up the whole idea. I don’t believe in God, but I still feel the hole sometimes.

In ‘Aubade’ by Philip Larkin, he talks about his terror of death, and the fear of ‘nothingness’:

I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
Till then I see what’s really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself die.

Pretty bleak isn’t it? But then he was apparently terrified of dying, of ceasing to exist. Later in the poem he says:

This is a special way of being afraid
No trick dispels. Religion used to try,
That vast, moth-eaten musical brocade
Created to pretend we never die,
And specious stuff that says No rational being
Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing
That this is what we fear – no sight, no sound,
No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,
Nothing to love or link with,
The anaesthetic from which none come round.

It’s that one line that gets me – ‘created to pretend we never die’ – because ultimately isn’t that what religion is? I would quite like to believe that I am never going to really die, however much of a pretence that might be.

I don’t believe in God, yet sometimes I feel the absence of what to me God represents – a faith in something bigger than me, a sense of purpose, a set of ‘rules’ and beliefs to guide me and to inform the decisions I make. Most of all I suppose God, and religion generally, offer reassurance, a comfort that this isn’t it.

I miss having that solid faith in something more. No one wants to believe do they that this is all there is?

Football. It’s just a game right? Euro 2012 is just some men kicking some balls about, nothing to get worked up about.

Apparently not.

Football generally, and especially tournaments such as Euro 2012, aren’t just a bit of fun. When you think of football violence though, what do you think of? Lads outside the pub having a bit of a scuffle? Fans at the match winding up the other team? Unfortunately, the victims of football violence are often hidden behind closed doors. They are the WAGS – the wives, girlfriends and even children of the football fans, angry at their team for missing that winning goal.

When England lost 4-1 to Germany in the 2010 World Cup, domestic abuse rose across England by a third. And that’s just the stuff that got reported. During Euro 2012, posters and leaflets are being circulated through many parts of the country in doctor’s surgeries, community centres, even pub toilets, trying to raise awareness of the problem.

 

"football domestic violence"

Poster from West Yorkshire police, who saw domestic violence virtually double during one 2010 England World Cup match.

I will say that again in case you didn’t read the caption – during one England World Cup match, West Yorkshire Police saw reports of domestic violence virtually double.

This isn’t OK.

It isn’t OK to hit your wife because your favourite football team lost. It isn’t OK to scare your children just because the ball hit the post.

Anyone who is a victim of any form of domestic violence should contact the Police – either on 101 if it is to report an incident which has taken place, or if you are in immediate danger, on 999. If you are a violent man, wanting support to stop, call the National Helpline For Men Wanting To Change on 0808 8024040.