Princess of Pop (Tarts)
Aimee Cliff, Features Editor
There just aren’t enough snacks around that come in fluorescent orange packaging and are completely honest with you about how much they’re going to screw you up. When you take Pop Tarts off the shelf, there is no idea being implanted in your mind that eating two of these a day will help you lose a stone; there’s no pretence that the stuff that goes into making these things came from a forest and was handpicked by smiling natives; there’s no delusion that these are going to taste like anything you could get at M&S. Pop tarts are cheap little… well, tarts, that will take you home no questions asked, and never pretend to be anything they’re not. Never had one? I’m not going to sell them to you as a taste sensation – I’ll sell them to you as a midnight indulgence that leaves you feeling dirty and on a little bit of a sugar high. If it were up to me, all good things would come in foil packages and be ready to toast (I’m sure my diet would improve if I could stick anything in a toaster and have it ready in about 60 seconds flat). You can keep your Special K, and your muesli – I’ll have my icing-coated toaster pastry, and I’ll eat it, too.
Loveday Wright, Features Deputy Editor
Despite somewhat faking my pleased reaction to receiving a bulky black puffer jacket for Christmas, I have since fallen in love with this garment and wear it every day. The onset of Spring means that, sadly, I will soon no longer be able to submerge myself in its duvet-like depths, its trustworthy defence against the cold, its thick, feathery luxuriousness. How I’ll miss its weightlessness, the smooth swish of the zip, the usefulness of its many pockets! But combined with the pleasure my puffer provides is a slight sense of shame. My conscience is relatively clear when it comes to the ethics of wearing feathers; used in clothing, they are a by-product of birds raised for consumption, meaning less waste, and they have the lowest carbon footprint of any other insulating material. It is rather the awful, made-in-Germany-style practicality of the puffer that puts me off. Always inciting a reaction – I have been likened to the Michelin man and was asked today why I was still wearing this wintry “bad-boy”, – I worry that the jacket really is quite unattractive, and it is certainly not chic. But any loathing of the way I look when gathered in its embrace is easily soothed by this very thing. Probably the cosiest vicious circle ever.
Rebekah Diamond, Staff Writer
The weekly true-life story magazines Pick Me Up, Love it!, That’s Life! et al have more to say about the world, emotions, and people than the complete works of Dickens. Unlike glossy magazines, these true-life troves are designed to make their readers feel fortunate rather than guilty. They don’t shame readers into buying low-calorie yoghurt and scheduling ‘me time’: the closest they get to projected lifestyle envy is their list of tips including examples such as this gem – ‘sharpen your kitchen scissors by snipping on a piece of tin foil!’ The first person narration appeals to some kind of innate desire to empathise. It’s fun escapism, and, frankly, I’d rather read stories with bizarre titles yet unfailing happy endings like ‘my boob exploded in Morrison’s!’ (seriously, check out the Pick Me Up website – this one is nuts!) than be patronised by some masquerading ‘style guru’ telling me to ‘embrace the shoe stud’ if I want to look like Selena Gomez. So yes, I’ll happily be sticking to my 60p handover in exchange for a hard fix of ‘sixty pages of EXCLUSIVE true life!!!’ for the foreseeable future. Now let’s have a nice cup of tea and a story about the ghost who is also a stripper, shall we?
The Sound of Music
Alex Baines, Features Deputy Editor
Musicals occupy a somewhat strange and unwelcome position in our cultural conscience. They seem to defy categorisation, and certainly not in a good, and even less so in a cool, way. Although they involve acting, going to a musical is not like going to an opera, or even going to the theatre. The more discerning OxStu reader will undoubtedly look down upon this lesser form of persona-adoption as trivial and worthless compared to those other, higher methods of genuine intellectual cultivation. Although they involve music, going to a musical is not like going to an Arctic Monkeys gig, or even going to a Coldplay gig. And it’s certainly not like going to a James Blake gig. To OxStu readers who would attend one of these performances (even Coldplay), musicals are just pretty lame. But at their best, in their all-singing, all-dancing effervescence, brimming with radioactive explosions of colour, light and sound, in the possibilities of their dynamic canvasses for creating a visual and aural kaleidoscope, musicals come closest to forging the complete live entertainment experience. Maybe musicals aren’t as highbrow as Lucrezia Borgia, and maybe they aren’t as cool as James Blake. But I love them.
Elementary, my dear
Emily Belton, Features Editor
Old men bumbling around solving problems: neither the most romantic of images, nor the coolest. But I confess that I love detective programmes, or, more specifically, the great Poirot, Lewis, and Inspector Morse. Understandably, some might think that such programmes are made for the over-50s who are hurtling towards the retirement age. But there is so much more to them. Lewis provides sumptuous backdrops of Oxford. Poirot has a never-ending supply of one-liners (‘it is the brain, the little grey cells, on which one must rely’). Inspector Morse is a grumpy genius whose love of Wagner is comical. Forget Miss Marple, these guys keep you intrigued from the first minute. If you search hard enough you might even find some ‘edgier’ episodes with sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll thrown in. Mon ami, such detective programmes provide much more cerebral stimulation than an episode of Gossip Girl. In fact, it’s a relief to spend an hour and a half watching average-looking/wrinkled characters use their brains rather than bronzed, manicured Americans waste theirs. Plus, if you still want some eye candy, you have the ‘dishy’ Sergeant Hathaway in Lewis to compensate. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some knitting to do…
No Likey, No Lighty
Rosie Wilson, Staff Writer
It’s been nearly a decade since the demise of Cilla Black’s ‘Blind Date’: a show that represents the golden halcyon days of ITV. But fear not: the removal of Cilla from our screens did not necessarily sound the death knell for all dating shows. Oh no. ‘Take Me Out’ is back, and it’s back with a vengeance.
For those of you living under a rock/too busy and cool to be familiar with the veritable circus that is Take Me Out, here’s a quick summary of its premise. Overlord Paddy McGuiness (not Paddy Ashdown, as I referred to him throughout one viewing) introduces four men to 30 women. If the women like what they see, they keep their lights on. Paddy even has a rousing catchphrase for this bit: “No likey, no lighty!” The man then chooses a date from those who remain lit up. If not, he retreats home in public humiliation, to a chorus of ‘All By Myself’ from Paddy et al. As you might imagine, it’s all fairly kitsch.
The writers of the show have had an absolute field day writing catchphrases for Paddy to offer up on a weekly basis. The website has even billed them as ‘Paddyisms’, but this – alas – has not yet caught on. Their list contains some corkers (‘let the shepherd see the pie’ is a personal favourite), but the comments that viewers have left underneath resemble modernist verse. ‘Ljones1988’ offers the following: ‘let the cu see the cumber’, ‘let the banana see the split’, ‘let the sherbet see the dip’, ‘let the beaver see the wood’. I’m looking forward to any – or all – of these featuring in the next episode.
Paddy has a strangely mirthless laugh and – what with all the catchphrases – it’s impossible to imagine him leading a humdrum existence away from the glitz ‘n’ glamour of the Take Me Out set. Say what you like though, he has got comic timing. When one contestant boasted that his tattoo signified the “French fashion house, Lacroix”, Paddy responded with “I’ve got Lidl”.
It’s not all a ‘lorra lorra laughs’, though. Indeed, the show frequently possesses tragic resonances. The women who as yet have failed to get a date (and we’re nine weeks in now) are subjected to jibes from Paddy and have to desperately try to chuckle along with him. An apparently pre-pubescent boy looked on in anguish as one woman described him as a ‘young Dick van Dyke’ last week. TMO can frequently make for uncomfortable – nay, upsetting – viewing.
With this warning in mind, tune in. It truly has to be seen to be believed.
Hot off the Press
Katya Balen, Staff Writer
My mum cooked my dad and made him into spaghetti bolognese. My brother runs a tortoise sex island. My boobs exploded and now I’m a badger. I married my cousin’s nan’s best friend’s garden gnome. All sound fairly ridiculous and entirely unbelievable? Welcome to the world of the trashy magazine. Don’t try to pretend you haven’t been seduced before, seeing their ludicrous and shiny titles winking at you from the shelves by the checkout in Sainsbury’s. Their tacky and anti-intellectual covers make them more shameful to purchase than the highest of top-shelf publications and I really don’t care. They’re bloody brilliant. There’s nothing I love more after slogging through satirising of political figures in the 16th century than lying in bed, eating cheap chocolate and reading cheap journalism. The articles may not have the witty rapport of the OxStu, but frankly, when you’re reading about someone’s ambition to weigh 50 stone by the time they’re 40 by eating nothing but cheesecake and goldfish crackers, any kind of intellectual snobbery has faded in place of an alarming sense of curiosity, often followed by extreme nausea.