Why the smiling pig? Well, in recent times, I have discovered Anthony Robbins, the darling of the USA life coaching scene and in the small hours of the morning when sensible people are sleeping, I am usually under the covers with him. My husband hasn’t got a clue because he is one of the sensible sleepers.

So there’s me, under the covers with my iPad, being yelled at by Anthony Robbins (or Tony as his followers tend to call him), having my dangerously negative thinking remodelled quite expertly by this all-American jock with a chiselled jaw, husky voice, nice teeth and a heart-stopping smile.

I will get to the smiling pig shortly, I promise.

smiling pigs

Don’t Let Life Get You Down

Ok, so I have been getting ‘Anthonied’ as I call it for several weeks now via YouTube and I have to say, this larger than life, impossibly handsome, over-enthusiastic, loud-mouthed guru has actually kicked my ‘ass’ into gear.

So where does the smiling pig come in? Well Tony advocates having a role model and for days, I used Tony himself. He was there at the foot of my bed every morning at 5.30am bellowing at me to get up and seize the day while I still have a reasonable quota of them left. Then one morning, after thinking that I really should get myself a staunch British role model, I suddenly thought of Churchill – not as in Winston, I am talking about Churchill the pig.

I had met Churchill several years ago while out covering some farm related story. She, (yes Churchill was a girl) had just given birth to a litter of little Churchills and I went to take pictures. Now bear in mind, this was a farm that sold sausages and other pork related products, so the future did not bode well for Churchill and her adorable off-spring. But there she was, so utterly content with her lot in life, that when I pointed the camera at her she smiled the biggest, most stupid and lovable grin ever. Despite being next year’s sausages/bacon/pork pies, she smiled as if the abattoir was a health farm from which she would return, refreshed, to live another day instead of a place from which she would return, in pieces, to live temporarily in the freezers at the farm shop.

So that morning, when I was thinking of role models, I searched my picture archive and found Nellie Churchill, a beautiful smiling pig, now deceased and eaten. So I put her picture on my office wall to remind me to smile regardless of the fact that I am closer to being worm food than I would really like to be. It’s no disrespect to Anthony Robbins; I still turn to him for a kick up the bum when my spirit flags and I’m feeling like the world shuns anyone over 45. However, Nellie Churchill is now the wind beneath my wings every day. She must be the most loved, dearly departed, smiling pig in the world. Thanks Nellie, hope you gave a few people chronic heartburn.


My extreme musical taste was revealed to me recently when I decided I was fed up with the stacks of CDs on display on shelves in my living room. I had them double stacked and found it impossible to browse through them easily. I know the solution is to whack them all on iPod but it would have taken me about 10 years and I couldn’t be bothered, so I decided to ditch the plastic cases and transfer the CDs and inserts to folders.

It worked like a dream, I now have my extreme musical taste arranged in alphabetical order in 4 huge CD cases and I am discovering music I had forgotten about. It is like flipping through a magazine on your lap. For anyone who wants to do the same, I can recommend Argos’s 208 CD/DVD wallet. They cost me £9.99 each and are perfect. (Argos is not paying me to say that!) The first two I bought were double that price and although they are slightly better quality, the Argos cases do the job just as well.

It was while I was sorting through all my CDs that I realised what extreme musical taste I have. The range of music I have collected over the years is so wildly mixed that I dread to think how a psychologist looking at it would profile me. And just as I was having that thought, Dr. Daniel Mullensiefen, a Music Psychologist, appeared on Big Bother’s Bit On the Side to analyse some of the Big Brother contestant’s favourite music tracks and what their preferences say about them.

Ok, yes, I know, Big Brother tut tut. But before you judge, let me just say, Dr. Mullensiefen is from Goldsmiths College, University of London and he had probably never heard of BB or BBBOTS when he agreed to appear – he did seem bemused. Anyway, he claims our music and song choices are related to personality and can reveal how we want others to see us. Armed with this knowledge, I revisited my newly arranged CD collection and studied the four folders closely.

After I had gone through it all, I decided to choose the two CDs that I believe represent the extremes of my taste in music. So I chose Barbie Girl by Aqua as the shamefully awful end of the collection and Abbess Hildegard of Bingen, Gothic Voices, at the totally off the scale highbrow end. In-between are all the CDs I actually listen to regularly. I really couldn’t find anything quite as awful as Barbie Girl, although there were a few contenders. Likewise, I could not find anything quite as highbrow in my collection as Abbess Hildegard of Bingen. You would not expect to find these two CDs in the same collection and I really do think they demonstrate what an odd and extreme musical taste I have.

extreme musical taste

Extreme musical taste!

Remember the 1997 Barbie Girl track by a band called Aqua? If you like to laugh along with the rest of the diehard Eurovision Song Contest fans, you may remember hearing this song when it was played as the interval song (according to Wikipedia.org). It has also featured in many polls such as the best, worst, most cheesy, most annoying and most ridiculous songs ever.

One of the lists it featured on was Canadian based MuchMoreMusic’s 50 Guilty Pleasures where it was placed at No 27. That’s the only way I can describe it actually, a guilty pleasure because it isn’t a CD I would admit to most of my friends, that I have in my collection. With lyrics such as, ‘come on Barbie, let’s go party’ and ‘I’m a Barbie girl, in the Barbie world’, it isn’t exactly a song you could discuss in any great depth at a dinner party. One can have a good old dance to it though when the spirit grabs one.

And that is the attraction I suppose – it is frivolous, pointless and mindless as it requires no thought to understand. It is an annoying toe-tapper but, when I hear it (which isn’t very often I hasten to add), it makes me feel happy. On the rare occasions I do play it, I close all the windows and check to make sure the neighbour’s driveways are empty before I play it at full blast. My husband has no idea. He thinks I like Beethoven.

With regard to the other CD, Abbess Hildegard of Bingen was one of the most remarkable creative personalities of the Middle Ages. She was born in Germany in 1098 and at 8 years old, was put in the care of a small community of nuns. She became one of the most celebrated women of her time as a visionary, naturalist, playwright, poetess and composer.

Extreme Musical Taste Experiment

I played both CDs and let them wash over me to see how they affected me. I want to tell you that I preferred Gothic Voices but I would be lying. Gothic Voices is all in Latin and by track 4, I wanted to eat my own ears. So I am afraid to say, if I was forced to choose which one to keep, based on how the music makes me feel, it would have to be the frivolous, utterly awful Barbie Girl. However, if it was based on the lyrics, those of Abbess Hildegard of Bingen, written in the 1100s, would win hands down.

Here are some lyrics from both songs:-
Barbie Girl‘Life in plastic, it’s fantastic! You can brush my hair, undress me everywhere, imagination, life is your creation’.
O presul vere civitatis (written by Abbess Hildegard of Bingen and performed on Gothic Voices)‘O summit of the cloistered mind you tirelessly showed a beautiful face in the mirror of the dove’.

These two CDs definitely represent the extremes of what is in my music collection, but quite what Mr. Mullensiefen would make of them I do not know. I suspect he would conclude I may be slightly mad. But I do think most of what I have in the rest of my music collection would redeem me. If I ever have time, I may sort them all out on a continuum and see what comes up mid-way between the two extremes.

I would love to hear about other people’s extreme CDs, particularly from 50 plus women, so do let me know what you have lurking in your collection.

And on the subject of Big Brother, yes, I do watch it but that is another story!

World Cup, Kelly Brook & Big Brother

You could practically hear the collective sharp intake of breath back in June as 22 million people up and down the country were treated to a free copy of The Sun newspaper as it came, uninvited through their letter boxes, complete with a World Cup survival guide.

Great. Thanks. But why? I don’t mean to sound ungrateful but if I  want to read fairy stories, I will get out my battered copy of Grimm’s.

world cup

Free Sun on my mat.

Some while ago, I made a conscious decision to stop watching the news and reading newspapers. It has been the best thing I have ever done for my sanity. I have no idea what atrocities are going on across this beautiful planet and I have no idea why anyone would want to know.

If anything happens that is so major I need to hide in the cupboard under the stairs for any length of time, I am sure someone will be good enough to tell me. And if there is no time to get in the cupboard, well then it’s game over I guess. I don’t really want to be fighting with people looting the last of the Pot Noodles at the local Lidl anyway.

So, there I was yesterday, standing in my hallway, looking down at a copy of the Sun that the postman had just shoved through my door, wondering what wonderful propaganda could be so important that people who choose not to buy papers are now getting them for free. I wondered if brainwashing by newspaper will gradually become compulsory and we will be subjected to random testing to see if we can answer questions about what Kim Kardashian is doing/wearing /eating this week.

Once I had got over the shock of seeing a gatecrasher newspaper in my house, I opened it to find Kelly Brook smiling at me, reminding me what thighs look like before they get filled with nearly 60 years of the wrong food.

Then I noticed the reason that the beautiful Kelly is squatting daintily, atop shoes my mother would not consider ‘sensible’,  looking very pleased with herself (while caressing a lock of her own hair). It is because she has just ‘been voted’ Britain’s sexiest woman. Who by? Er, Sun readers I think.

Anyway, thankfully, anthropologist Desmond Morris kindly explains, on the same page, just what it is that makes Kelly Brook so appealing. That’s good because her flawless skin, pretty face and perfect body didn’t quite make that clear enough. Apparently it’s a combination of her ‘fresh faced innocence’ and a ‘chest-waist-hips ratio of perfect hourglass proportions’.

Thank you Desmond for clearing up the mystery. I honestly thought it was her extensive knowledge of the internal combustion engine that had men ogling at her. I am sure there are men up and down the country who will tear their eyes away from her picture to read Morris’s column to find out exactly why they find it so hard to tear their eyes away from her picture. Duh!

There are two more raven haired beauties on the page, Michelle Keegan who came second in the poll to find Britain’s sexiest woman, and Emily Ratajkowski who came third. And then oh, what’s this – let me get my magnifying glass – oh look, it’s three tiny little pictures of the men who came first, second and third in the poll to find the sexiest men! But wait, Desmond hasn’t explained what makes them sexy… Oh dear, no room left I suppose as the pictures of the three girlies take up lots and lots of space.

What a pity, I think an explanation of what makes David Beckham, Benedict Cumberpatch and David Gandy (that’s ok, I didn’t know either – he’s a model) sexy would have been really useful as I have been unable to figure it out by myself. Turn the page – quickly! And thank goodness I did because there are two things in this paper you may want to know. What the ‘offside rule’ in football is all about and how your love life can survive the World Cup.

Before you poo poo this news, just bear in mind that the dispenser of advice regarding your love life surviving the world cup is none other than Dr. Pam Spurr. What do you mean ‘who’s she’? She is one of the psychologist/body language expert experts off Big Brother. Big Brother? For heavens sake! Don’t you know anything about culcha? Big Brother is where a group of mentally challenged young people all scream OH MY GOD! a lot as they go into a house they can’t escape from to argue for three months. The viewers are then urged to spends lots of money each week ringing up to tell the producers who to throw out.

They have to share beds with each other, even though they have never met before and quite often there is quite a lot of discussion about whether any of them will have s-e-x. Yes really!They generally put in at least one very screechy flamboyant man with a distinctive regional accent, along with a selection of nubile, skinny young women who look gorgeous on the launch night as they teeter along the catwalk to deafening boos or cheers, depending on how humble or cocky they have been on the introductory video clip we are shown.

There is usually at least one mouthy blonde who has a stunning career in telesales but who really really wants to be a model. I like to see the ‘blondes’ kept in until the end so I can see what they look like with a 2 inch wide black centre parting. Sometimes they throw in a token ‘mum’ to be the voice of reason when it’s all kicking off 24 hours into the series but often the ‘mums’ turn out to be worse than the ‘children’.

There is usually a down to earth, fairly ordinary female housemate who is considered to be fat and ugly by the ‘pretty’ size minus-zero girls. There is also usually a handful of testosterone charged hunky boys, many of whom are models and who will sit and discuss which of the girls they would like to ‘get to know better’. It usually isn’t the fat ugly one.

Probably the most interesting thing about the show is seeing how the flawless beauties who enter the house on launch night become bleary eyed horrors with appalling skin in the space of 12 hours and several bottles of champagne.

Most of the ‘housemates’ have high flying careers in professions such as underwear modelling, modelling, acting, modelling, modelling and modelling. Occasionally they have someone on there who isn’t a model but wants to be one. It is a very aspirational show for young people to watch.

Anyway, Dr. Pam Spurr (a self-help expert according to the free Sun I received) appears on the show that comes on after Big Bother, called Big Brother’s Bit On the Side. Or BBOTS as it is affectionately known in academic circles. This show is where an audience of ordinary people (huh?), discuss all the arguing seen in the current episode and try to guess who will get voted out. Also on this show is a panel of celebrities who are famous for being models, actors, models, footballers wives, former Big Brother housemates, models, ex-models, wannabe models and so on. They get to sit on special chairs behind a special table during the show because they are superior human beings to the studio audience and they know a lot.

How do I know so much about this show? Fair question. Yes I do watch it but not for enjoyment. I watch it purely from an anthropological viewpoint to better understand  some of the other people in the UK who have the right to vote. Yes, scary isn’t it. I also like watching people make utter fools of themselves on national TV in order to be ‘famous’.

Back to Dr. Pam in my free Sun newspaper. As a self-help expert, she advises a number of things you can do to make sure your sex life, sorry, your love life survive the World Cup (which in case you didn’t know involves lots of football matches abroad somewhere).

My first thought about Dr. Pam’s 5 point plan for getting some ‘love’ during the world cup is that if you follow her advice, it isn’t exactly self-help really – well it isn’t is it? Just saying. One of her ‘self-help’ suggestions is that if you haven’t had any ‘attention’ for awhile, have a hot shower and then ‘parade‘ in front of your ‘transfixed‘ partner allowing your towel to ‘accidentally‘ drop. Apparently, the resulting ‘action‘ will move to the bedroom.

I don’t think Dr. Pam knows men very well. It is more likely he will ask you to get him a beer before having his way with you smack bang in front of the TV with the remote in one hand and his beer in the other. Welcome to man heaven you silly girls.

I tried it once draped in nothing but an England flag. He didn’t notice so I had to stand right in front of the TV. He missed a goal and we then had a row during which he missed another one. Still talks about it now and that was during the last World Cup.

Anyway, whoever decided to send out free copies of the Sun, thanks, I have had a laugh if nothing else. If anyone out there didn’t get it but wants one, do let me know, you can have mine. It might be worth something one day, there’s only 2 million of them.