Gossip Column


Prime Minister Tony Blair said in an interview today that he wants his party to drop the in-fighting and instead focus on the public’s concerns.  That would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious.  It’s a great pity he wasn’t so “concerned” about the public’s concerns when he took us to war against the wishes of most of the country.

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Supermodel Kate Moss “blacked-up” for Africa this week and her black image was featured on the front page of the Independent.  This is what Hannah Pool of The Guardian had to say about it and I mostly agree with her but I’d stop short of calling it racism.  I don’t think it’s intentionally racist at all.  It’s just in bad taste and it’s extremely patronising.  Kate Moss is a white female.  How does blacking up demonstrate her solidarity towards oppressed black African women?  What message does she think she’s giving?  I don’t know which I’m more dismayed about…the fact that people believe this really works as social activism or the fact that The Independent, a newspaper that I respect, featured it.

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I really was determined not to comment on this but I can’t keep a big mouth shut so here goes…my take on the controversy over the comments of pope Benedict XVI last week:   Well, taking into account the delicately thin line of trust that exists at the moment between Islam and the West, of course it was an unwise and ill-judged thing for the head of the Roman Catholic church to say.  The fact that he was quoting a 14th century predecessor makes little difference to an already nervous and edgy Muslim community in a world where Western pro-Zionist policies in the Middle East are increasing tensions and mistrust.

I think that Pope John Paul II’s anti-Iraq war stance managed to ward off to a certain extent, the growing belief that we are fast moving towards a Christianity-versus-Islam world.  Benedict’s speech would have given quite the opposite effect and would indeed go towards confirming Muslim suspicions that the West wishes to conquer and rule all.  If that’s a touch over- dramatic, it certainly provides more propaganda material for fundamentalist Muslim clerics, with their hidden agenda’s, to groom and radicalise even more young Muslim men.

Pope Benedict has the right to freedom of speech and the Muslim reaction, as with the Danish cartoons, was totally disproportionate – outrageously so in places.  But the Pope must have been aware of the provocative risks involved.  Where is the value in provoking an already angry and resentful community whose culture is constantly being demonised?  

I actually agreed with some of what the pope said in his speech but to choose this quote –  “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” in view of the current climate, was always going to be seen as inciteful, even if he didn’t mean it to be.

I know, he’s apologised.  I hope the Muslims now have the good grace to accept this, move on and start building bridges. 

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Good news regarding Richard Hammond, the Top Gear presenter who was very badly injured at the weekend.   I am amazed at reports that say he has been walking already.  I have seen many people with serious head injuries and they spend months and months in hospital beds in a semi-conscious state.  And even when they regain full consciousness, they need lot’s of help and therapy.  And they’re often left with some permanent damage. 

In all honesty, I wrote this guy off and I’m very glad I was wrong.  I don’t care for the show itself (although I’ve sat through many because of my husband’s addiction to it and I’ll even own up to being secretly amused at times).   But of course, I wouldn’t wish such trauma on anyone, not even Jeremy Clarkeson, and I sincerely hope he makes a full recovery.

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The fashion industry, in an attempt to ethically-cleanse its image, is thinking about banning supermodels who are too thin.   I can appreciate the intent behind this and goodness knows, it’s about time the fashion-makers became more responsible in their image-selling.  But, I don’t see how banning thin models altogether can fully achieve this.   What about the naturally thin girls out there who are self-conscious about their lack of curves?   The Madrid fashion show decided to only parade “healthy-looking” models at this years show but is this not creating another image for girls to live up to and stigmatising the naturally thin girls?

The pressure for young people to look “just right” comes from all around.  It comes from the media, the glossy mags, the music industry. It also comes from peers and from the opposite sex.  But what is “just right”?   Too thin often means small breasts.  Curvy sometimes means too fat. 

What’s needed is for the image-makers to use every shape and size to promote their fashion…to use normal-looking girls to model their designs.   And the glossy media also needs to stop telling the male population what females should look like.  It gives out conflicting and confusing messages to boys and places unacceptable, often unachievable pressure on girls.  It can lead to boys feeling cheated and girls feeling worthless.   And…vice-versa.  Boys have image-pressure too.

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