Friday, November 30, 2007

Heat Magazine

On Tuesday I saw that Heat magazine had included an sticker in the latest edition of their magazine which featured the face of a child: Harvey Price, Katie Price's disabled son, accompanied by the words "Harvey wants to eat me".

I was appalled that a magazine should even feature a child, let alone appear to mock said individual for his disability (Harvey Price suffers from a genetic disorder which causes him to gain weight) so I e-mailed the editors at Heat magazine the following:

"Dear Sir

I was appalled to find that Heat magazine has been offering stickers which feature the faces of children. I was further appalled to find that at least one of these children are disabled and that the stickers have a mocking/deriding tone to the words which accompany them.

Obviously your magazine would not exist without so called celebrities and to remain famous they need you as much as you need them. To feature pictures of consenting adult 'celebrities', whilst distasteful, is also to be expected.

Children however, especially those offspring of a 'celebrity' do not choose a way of life which includes recognition. It is important that they are protected from the public eye until they are old enough to make decisions for themselves. This protection should include publishers such as yourself refraining from publishing their photographs unless they are accompanying their parents to public events such as film premiers where there will be an expectation of publicity. Protection should certainly involve refraining from mocking, poking fun at or generally publishing photographs for no other reason than entertainment.

The sticker I am referring to in particular involves Katie Price's son. While I agree that she does appear to invite cameras into her life (and I am pleased that she does not exclude her son from this simply by virtue of being disabled) I am sure that she would never wish to extend this invitation to allowing her son to be deliberately mocked for the characteristics of his disability.

I very rarely purchase your magazine as I do not wish to perpetuate this cycle of fame for fame's sake. Rest assured that following this distasteful incident I will never be purchasing your magazine ever again and I shall be imploring my friends and colleagues to also boycott your magazine themselves.

I trust that Heat magazine will be issuing an apology for the offence they have caused to both the individuals immediately concerned, those people with disabilities or with disabled members of their families and so on who have worked tirelessly for disabled people to be fully integrated into society and to never be mocked or jeered or bullied in the name of entertainment or anything else as well as the wider public and perhaps also making a donation of profits to a charity which seeks to address this issue.

I look forward to your response in this matter. "

I received the following response:

Thank you for contacting us. No offence was intended by the Harvey sticker but I would like to unreservedly apologise for any offence caused as a result. I have spoken to The Andre's management team and have written a private letter to Katie and Peter to apologise personally.Mark Frith, Editor-in-Chief, heat"

Personally, I did not find such a generic response fulfilled my complaint. I would have liked them to explain what was intended by such a sticker and indeed why they though publishing a picture of a child was acceptable. Thankfully, it seems that Heat Magazine have been forced to publish an apology on their website. Sandwiched in amongst articles about I'm a Celebrity and Kelly Brook leaving Strictly was this which includes this extract:

"We now accept that that the decision to include this sticker was a mistake and we recognise that it has caused offence, not only to Katie and Peter Andre, but to a number of readers"

They 'now' accept? What did they think before? Perhaps in future they will think before publishing.

This & That

Hopefully I will have some more time next week. The Fulham WI Ball which I have been mentioning all year is this Saturday evening - the past week or so has been manic trying to tie up all the loose ends but I think we are winning and it should be a good night and raise lots of money for our chosen charity at the same time.

Also this week I have been writing for ETPMagazine where my article about ethical jewellers Ingle & Rhode was published on Monday. My second article for the current affairs section should be published on 12 December.

Oh, and if you are looking for a beautiful Christmas present or simply a chic treat for yourself, have a look at Eric Bompard cashmere, cashmere all the way from Mongolia, styled in Paris. They are, apparently, the number one cashmere supplier/designer in France and will deliver items free to the UK. And, if you order before the 1 December they will deduct 20% off your bill. I have a beautiful pumpkin coloured set of hat and gloves which are very soft - even on the tube my head did not itch - and just right for an English winter (warm and cheerful). Something to smile about on a rather dull London Friday.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Chutney Making and other tales

I am running out of spare weekends before Christmas. On Sunday I started my preparations. Chutney making. In an effort to be more ethical (both in terms of costs and avoidance of purchasing presents which people do not really want or use and to give people my time rather than my money) I decided that I would make chutney for my presents this year. I can mention this because my mother already knows (having provided the apples from their garden) and I don't think any one else reads my writing on a regular basis.

So on Sunday I chopped and softened and chopped and added ingredients and watched with alarm as my pan looked rather full. I added sugar and vinegar (pints of the stuff) and started to wonder quite how much chutney I had made. An entire pressure cooker full? Somehow I thought it would reduce further than it did. I washed and sterilised the dozen jars which I had bought and still the chutney remained. I washed and sterilised some old jam jars and finally in desperation emptied the spaghetti out of the litre kilner jar and sterilised that too. I have lots of jars and an entire litre for myself. We are going to be eating chutney every meal for weeks.

Friday night saw my first attempt at Urban Golf. For the uninitiated this is akin to bowling but using a computer simulator and a real golf club and ball. You stand on a mat and use a golf club of your choice to smack (or roll) the golf ball into a screen which takes the path and speed of the ball and maps where it would have gone into a computer game. It is harder than it sounds. There are hordes of people watching. High heels are not conducive to golf swings. Neither is mild inebriation. The screen needs to be hit with a certain speed to register your turn. That too can be difficult to achieve, especially when putting. An enjoyable evening none the less. And no, obviously I didn't win.

Monday, November 19, 2007


Arrived back in London last night on the 11.58pm train into Euston from Yorkshire. We drove the first part of the journey, winding across the Yorkshire Dales along narrow one laned roads, white metal fencing along some of the fields just visible in the glow of the headlights. There was that same safe feeling which I had as a child, cosied into the back of our trusty Volvo with my two sisters, Mum and Dad in the front, Dad driving, Mum navigating and handing out cups of tea and sandwiches, when we were all together and could have been going anywhere, a voyage, an adventure. Last night was much the same, only now, still eldest but now smallest, I have to sit in the middle seat and the third occupant of the back seat was M rather than my other sister. As we drove, the snow started, softly at first, as if it hardly meant it. Sleet turned into snow and as we left the Dales behind and headed down the motorway it started to strengthen and settle. Annie's friend in the RAF had left behind his GPS navigator in her care whilst he was posted overseas and so 'Brucie' attempted to guide us southwards. He was persistant and adamant that we should use the M6, despite the warnings that there was slow moving traffic and an accident further south. "in three hundred yards, turn right" he directed. "Turn right". Pausing only to recalculate he started up again as Mum tried to direct us via another road and Annie desperately tried to work out which buttons to press to avoid motorway junctions, all the while Brucie insisting that we should "turn right". Once we decided to rejoin the motorway we were surprised he didn't applaud when we finally chose to follow his directions but there was a final test for him, when Dad wanted to drive past the slip road, over the bridge to check the traffic was flowing and was then going to turn round. We all looked over the bridge and saw that the traffic was flowing albeit reasonably slowly and there was a moments silence. "What shall I do?" asked Dad. "Turn round" replied Brucie, followed by gales of laughter which embraced the car and carried us along the slow moving traffic to Stafford as we raced against snow and time to reach the last train which would take M and I to London, which we caught in the nick of time, jumping on board just as the train was ready to depart, brushing what felt like unseasonal snowflakes off our hair as we walked the length of the train to find solace in the quiet carriage.

The snow stopped somewhere round Milton Keynes and the rain started, lashing against the side of the train. I drank tea and read my book and London rushed closer and closer. The occupants of the carriage seemed resigned to the baby crying and after a while even he fell asleep under his mother's coat, lying on a table, perhaps lulled by the rain and the gentle rocking of the rail carriage. I sat there watching his face and hands in the reflection in the window, thinking of the reasons for the sudden trip northwards and the illustration of the cycle of life which had been so bluntly laid out for us: my aunt lost her father on the first day, her husband lost his mother on the second and his daughter gave birth on the third.

London seemed very light last night when we arrived. Despite the light by our door not coming on as usual I could see almost as well as in the daylight. The sky did not even seem to be dark, more an odd yellow hue and even at 12.30am there were sirens in the distance. There were no stars. How different to the night-time air in Yorkshire where accompanying my uncle on his nightly check on the animals at his farm I had not even been able to see a foot in front of me nor see my own feet. Pausing for a moment in the garden last night the air even smelt different - I could almost taste the pollution, could feeling it replacing the clean sweet air which I had greedily drunk in whilst climbing and walking on the fells only that morning. There may be a lot of things which London does better than Yorkshire but clean and dark night air is not one of them.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

BBC London Radio - Fulham WI

It's been a busy week so apologies for the lack of posts.

The week has been taken up with more ball committee meetings (only 3 weeks left to go and what a lot left to do), an appearance on BBC London Radio which you could listen to here if you were so inclined (fast forward about an hour and a half and you can hear 3 Fulham WI girls discussing WI issues and our response to the Hampshire WI Federation's proposal that the WI back the legalisation of prostitution).

This week has also seen the publication of two further articles in The first of which can be read here and is a response to the Madeleine McCann story; the second is a look at another on-line ethical boutique called Fisher Garcia and my article can be found here.

If and when I get a chance I will try and explore further the issues we discussed in relation to the suggestion that women should back the legalisation of prostitution. I do however have a family funeral to attend on Friday and will be spending much needed time with my family at the weekend, so it could well be at least another week before I post anything further.

Monday, November 05, 2007


So, as promised, a bit more about the articles which I have written for new on-line ethical focused ETPMagazine. I am writing for both the fashion section and the current affairs section.

The press release for ETPMagazine states that

"ETPmagazine exists to work towards a celebration of who women really are and not who the media want them to be. We stand for the empowerment of secure, self-confident women and, fundamentally, for a conscientious, ethical, and greener approach to living. We don’t believe in making women feel bad about themselves for our own profit – in fact, we want to do the opposite. As a carbon neutral site with a continual spotlight on the environment, we’re encouraging women to feel good about themselves and the world in which they live.

ETPmagazine is about promoting a more positive, healthy and empowering image of women in the public eye. We may not be size zeros but we have character, integrity, passion and energy. We would challenge anyone to show us a single women’s magazine which is aimed at the intellectual woman; one that has hard-hitting interviews and current affairs articles that really stretch and challenge expectations, combined with news and local reviews of all things cultural, fashionable and beautiful."

I have written two articles for this week's fashion section. The House of Tammam article features Fairtrade High End Label House of Tammam; the second covers the Islington Contemporary Art & Design Fair Ethical Fashion Show (which I mentioned the other day). I have also written one article for the 'What's On' Section about Fairtrade Fairs.

Other than the excitment of seeing my articles this morning, the weekend has been fairly normal. Dinner party for friends on Friday night, tasted the food for the WI ball on Saturday morning and then went to another dinner party with different friends on Saturday evening in the Barbican. A lazy Sunday morning followed by an afternoon and evening in the pub with some other friends in St John's Wood playing Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit. Uneventful but very relaxing.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Silence at the Song's End

“What we were, we will become
As we give our heat to the desert sun”
These are the words which Nicholas Heiney used to describe death; in the summer of 2006 he committed suicide following a long but hidden battle with mental illness. The son of Libby Purves (one of my favourite authors and columnists and for whom I have had great respect since my early teens) Nicholas Heiney first came to my attention in Purves account of a family sailing round England in her book One Summer's Grace. Nicholas was 5 and his sister Rose 3. In reality, Nicholas was the same age as me. I was deeply saddened to read of his death last year.
Yesterday, Purves wrote a column in The Times entitled A Testament of Youth describing her son, his writing and the book that she and Nicholas' professor at his Oxford college have compiled from Nicholas' lifetime of writing. Called The Silence at the Song's End the book attempts to fulfill Nicholas' goal which was "to write something I could show to people". I have not yet had a chance to read this book but I have no doubt that Nicholas achieved this goal many times over.
This poem is one which has been featured in extracts from the book and is so moving it makes my heart hurt, for him, for the sea, for the Nicholas of One Summer's Grace, the family and with hope that wherever Nicholas is now he is able to be singing and sailing through eternity. (Read Frieda Hughes' response to this poem in Monday's Times here)
"The morning runs
on, a springtime secret
through the avenues
and avenues which lure
all sound away

I sing, as I was taught
inside myself.
I sing inside myself
when wild moments
slice some tender evening
like a breeze
that rattles gravel
and digs in the dirt

I sing, as I was told,
inside myself.
I sing inside myself
the one wild song, song that whirls
my words around
until a world unfurls

my ship’s new sail
I catch the dew
and set a course amongst the ocean curls

The silence at the song’s end
Before the next
Is the world"

Nicholas Heiney (1982-2006)