Spring has sprung...

Ice cream weather

Spring has very much arrived here in leafy Surrey...in fact it's been more like summer.  Last week Triple P was out and about in the early morning and it was -1C whereas this week we have had 24C (75F).  This has given all the press photographers the opportunity to go out and take pictures of pretty girls enjoying the sun in London parks.

Rollerblading by the Serpentine in Hyde Park

This week Triple P had to give a lecture to a, largely female, group from a French University and they were all delightfully under dressed.  They had all had to go and buy clothes here as they weren't expecting this weather.  We have had clear blue skies for over a week now (which enabled us to have a very good view of the Jupiter/Moon/Venus conjunction on Monday - a real Venus Observation!)

A NASA photograph of an almost totally cloudless Britain taken on Monday

Needless to say, with the Easter holidays coming up the weather is predicted to get worse and they are even saying there is a risk if snow in Scotland but that serves them right for being so far in the north.  Their terrible weather is punishment for having beautiful countryside, Edinburgh and lots of lovely girls with red hair.
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Jorgie Porter pipped at the post

Sadly, the elfin Jorgie just missed out on winning Dancing on Ice last night in favour of some Eastenders slaphead.  Said slaphead appeared, suspiciously, to be quite a good skater already at the beginning of the show whereas little Jorgie was like Bambi on ice at its inception.

Her achievement to get to the standard she did was all the more remarkable, therefore, given her total lack of initial skating skills. 

Jorgie is one of those short girls (just 5' 2") who looks perfectly in proportion so you only notice how tiny she is when she is next to someone of normal size.  Agent Triple P had a girlfriend once who was 5' 2" (actually we had several) and was similarly proportioned.  She didn't much appreciate being called, "small", "tiny", "dinky" or all the other things she patently was.  She got particularly cross if we said something like "give me your little hand" fulminating that she "was not a child or a dolly".  Emotionally and intellectually she had a point but, sadly, Agent Triple P is sizeist.

We know we shouldn't be and, nowadays this is less of an issue with us with women (although, that said, most of our women have been of above average height - the tallest being a rather awesome rower and cellist who was 6'3").  With men, however, the discrimination remains.  We don't trust small men on the basis that their lack of height will have negatively effected their personalities.  They also get cross because they never get served at bars first. 

We are reminded of a particularly excellent example of the seventies comedy show The Goodies where the late, great Philip Madoc (who died this month) played a South African border guard who was discriminating on the basis of how tall people were: "apart-height".  Brilliant!

Dinky?  Moi?
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New GB Olympic uniform unveiled...along with Jessica Ennis' stomach

Great Britain's Olympic poster-girl, heptathlete Jessica Ennis, grabbed most of the front pages this morning by displaying her tautly lickable tummy in the new Great Britain Olympic uniform launch yesterday.  You'd never know that there were another 29 athletes at the launch, modelling the new Adidas uniforms, given Jessica's ubiquity in the newspapers today.  Even Triple P favourite Victoria Pendleton couldn't compete with Jessica's awesome abdominals.

There has been some controversy about the designs, by Paul McCartney's daughter Stella, as they have been said to be too blue with not enough emphasis on the red in the Union flag on which the designs were based.  Given English sensitivities about the Scots intentions to leave the Union (they tell us) it has been said that the blue and white is "too Scottish".  

Actually, we think McCartney has done an excellent job; the distinctive elements of the flag are still there and, furthermore, the design would be too busy if the red flag elements were actually in red.   Whatever, nothing can distract from Miss Ennis's lovely tummy!

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Primeval New World

Agent Triple P has enjoyed the five series of Primeval on ITV over the past few years, particularly as much of it was filmed around the area where Triple P lives.  We will never forget the velociraptor loose in the John Lewis department store in Kingston!

Lead actress Sara Canning finds something nasty

Sadly it seems to have been a victim of its own budget with the cost of providing all those CGI dinosaurs eventually becoming just too much.  The creators of the show, who were also behind the BBC's much imitated Walking with Dinosaurs, have now signed  a deal to produce a new show called Primeval New World set and filmed in Vancouver.  If it's actually set in Vancouver it will be rather unusual as usually Triple P's favourite North American city is usually standing in for somewhere else (as it does for Boston in Fringe which we are currently enjoying).

Andrew-Lee Potts in Vancouver last week

Although it will have a new, Canadian cast, Andrew-Lee Potts from the UK show will be guest starring in one episode and was photographed filming in Vancouver last week.  Also, intriguingly, one episode at least will be directed by Amanda Tapping from Stargate.  Production started ten days ago so we will have to ask our friend S to keep her eyes open for film crews on the streets (although it's actually hard not to run into a film crew in Vancouver).

The producers say the show will be "older, darker and scarier" than the original whereas the original show managed a delicate balance of family friendly and occasionally chilling.  Still, let's hope it is a success as if it is there is a chance that the UK version may be resurrected.   Its due to be shown in the UK at the end of this year.

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Funnel Fraud

The most dismal attempt by a film distributor to cash-in on this year's Titanic centenary must be from the producers of the UK DVD for the film The Crimson Ocean.

Firstly, its not a real film at all but an edited down version of German TV series Die Gustloff which tells the tragic story of the liner the Wilhelm Gustloff which, at the end of World War 2, was evacuating wounded soldiers and civilians from Danzig ahead of the Russian army.  The ship was torpedoed by Russian submarine S-13 and sank with the loss of 9,000 people, making it the biggest loss of life for any marine disaster.

We saw the cover of this DVD in our local Sainsburys supermarket, where it had a respectable position in the charts.  It makes you wonder how it achieved this, given its origin as a German TV show about an incident that hardly anyone in the UK has heard of.

What really caught Triple P's eye, though, was the cover of a typical pre-WW1 design four funnel liner.  We naturally assumed it must be a film about the Lusitania, given the submarine in the foreground, but then we noticed the World War 2 period aircraft.  Obviously, the Wilhelm Gustloff must have been a similar looking liner from the same period, we reasoned.  Agent Triple P is quite knowledgeable about liners from this period, however, and we had never heard of it.  A little research turned up the answer.  The Wilhelm Gustloff was actually, at the time, a modern liner having been launched in 1937 as a ship to provide holidays and activities for Nazi trade unionists.  With the coming of the war it was used as a troop ship, a hospital ship and an accommodation ship. The key thing about her was that she had just the one funnel.  She looked nothing like the ship on the cover of the DVD as this shot of the (rather well done) digital ship from the TV series shows.

The Wilhelm Gustloff in 1938

So, the producers of the DVD have completely ignored the original look of the vessel to produce a picture  for the cover based on the look of the Titanic in order to shift more copies.  It's not difficult to find pictures of the Gustloff online so this must have been quite deliberate on their part.  Annoying!
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International Women's Day

Google's designers obviously struggled on how to represent women in their logo today. Typically feminine icons which would have been used in the past (a lipstick for the "l"?) are now de trop

Well today is International Women's Day and whilst we are tempted to ask why there is no International Men's Day we already know the answer, of course.  

We sat down to write a piece about all the international women we have known with a short introduction about the place of women in society but in the end we entirely focussed on the latter. Odd, you might think, from someone' whose blogs objectify women as decorative sex objects.  However, whilst Triple P does, indeed, appreciate an attractive lady presented for such purpose that doesn't mean that we think that is women's only role or, on the contrary, that portraying them in such a way is negative. Trying to remove provocative images of women from advertising, as some EU MPs are trying to do, is obviously hopeless as many women want to be portrayed provocatively (or feel that they can be provocative).  If women didn't like the sorts of images in this post you can bet that advertisers would change them rather than risk revenue. This doesn't mean, as the MPs think, that men (or women) will only regard women as sex objects as long as they continue to be shown in this way.  People are not as stupid as that!  Which is why we don't need politicians telling us what to look at.  Women are supposed to be sex objects: it's part of their design! Pretending that this isn't so will not change men's attitudes. If all women dressed in identical boiler suits, wore no make up and had the same short haircuts men would still differentiate between them on the basis of looks.  We cannot remove this from the equation.  More importantly, some of these boiler suited women would flutter their eyelashes, wiggle their hips and try to stand out from their sisters in order to attract men. 

Aimed at women

Men do not feel the need to trumpet their existence or bemoan their state on a special day.  This view, we admit, is a little unfair.  Whilst, no doubt there will be groups of men-hating "wimmin" holding bitter little meetings today there is a need, certainly, for some reflection on the way women are treated, especially in some developing (and even not so developing countries).  The fact that women aren't allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia is truly mind blowing. Agent Triple P used to work at a famous insurance market where women weren't even allowed to enter the building until the early nineteen fifties.  Interestingly, the first woman to be allowed in wasn't a pioneering businesswoman, or even the Queen, but the actress Linda Christian, the wife of Tyrone Power.  Thus glamour succeeded where business could not and this, it seems to Triple P, is part of the fundamental dichotomy of being a woman and why we will never have true equality between the sexes. 

Aimed at women (and Zakkers!)

To put this in context Triple P was bought up, essentially, in an all female household,  He had close female relations who were strong characters, working in largely male environments, mostly as journalists (as was Triple P's mother).  From an early age, therefore, he was quite aware of the fact that women could do things that others said only men could do.  As a result, we have always been attracted to strong, forthright, even bossy, women and have no interest in simpering "girlie" women.  What has become clear over time, however, is that there are different types of women who want different things out of life.  We would also argue that this is not so much the case  the case with men.

Aimed at women

Triple enjoys the TV series Mad Men, set at a time (the early sixties, when Triple P was small) when most women wanted to find a good husband, settle down and have children.  The character of Peggy (played brilliantly by Elizabeth Moss) wants more than this and realises that she can do  everything the men can, if they will only let her.  Whether such a woman would really have existed at this time or whether the character is there to show up the ludicrously sexist attitudes of the time with the benefit of hindsight (and provide a positive role model for women viewers) we are not sure (we suspect the latter).  There is no doubt, however, that Triple P has seen a real change in the way women are treated over the last fifty years.  This has all been to the benefit of many of the women in Triple P's life such as:, a friend from college (who became a nuclear physicist), his sister (a counter-terrorism expert) and his friend B (a construction engineer).  None of this would have been possible if they had been born twenty years earlier.   B, being a German, still has some problems from older German men.  Triple P worked on setting up an office in Frankurt once and was amazed by the negative attitude of German businessmen to women and young women in particular.  In contrast, Italy, where Triple P was also working, was very much more open to women in business.  

Aimed at women. Megan Fox for Armani. 

There are, however, two key issues for women in obtaining the full equality many of them want.  The first, we are afraid to say, is children.  Women were designed to have children; there is no getting around it.  Triple P worked for a man who would only hire women in their fifties and older as he didn't want the expense and hassle of replacing younger women, permanently or temporarily, when they inevitably left to have children.  However much governments legislate (which they do a lot) or encourage the provision of childcare facilities at work (which they don't do enough towards) any man hiring a young woman will have this in the back of their minds.  Not just men either.  One of Triple P's female relatives who is a senior (childless) business woman was bemoaning the fact that one of her staff wan't in again because of something to do with her baby.  "Either have children or a career!" ranted Triple P's relative.  So, although we realise that women are responsible for the continuation of the species there is still quite a lot of suspicion from men that they aren't serious about work.  

Max Factor lipstick advertisement 1955

The second problem women have (women would say they only have one problem; which is the attitude of men!) is briefly put.  Men will never treat them equally as long as they continue to define themselves by the way they look.  Hair, make-up, clothes, handbags and (especially) shoes really aren't important.  Most men hardly think about this (unless they are young and trying to attract women).  Now, whether women's fixation with adornment is somehow genetic (they have to attract men in order to breed) or dictated by society (you aren't equal to us so you might as well pretty yourself) is also a moot point.  Some feminists argue that the whole fashion and cosmetics industry is designed to keep women down.  We don't think it is an organised male conspiracy but we do feel that it does contribute to them being taken less seriously by some (not all - there are no definites here) men.  

Tom Ford lipstick advertisement 2010. Progress?

So women really can't win.  Some want to have careers that mirror men's but have this genetic urge to breed which means that they are not regarded as equals by many men.  Women who stay at home and have babies often now feel unsatisfied when they see their sisters with interesting jobs while they spend their days mopping up sick (househusbands, we are afraid, will always be a tiny minority, largely because they are looked down upon by other men).  Women who dress and behave to please men these days find themselves derided by other women.  It is interesting to see the comments on the internet, for example, whenever there is a new picture of model Kelly Brook falling out of her clothes at some junket.  Men's comments tend to be simple (we are simple, or, rather, straightforward): "she looks fantastic" women's tend to be nasty and vindictive "when is this stupid untalented woman going to stop flaunting herself?"

Aimed at women

So true equality is impossible (because of the nature of, and necessity for, sexual attraction) but that doesn't mean that inequality should not be tackled in areas where things can change (like letting women own property, vote, stand for political office, be paid equally and, yes, drive!)  But, on the whole, at least women now have more of a choice as to which direction their life might take than the did fifty years ago. Whilst we deplore the sort of political correctness that insists on "chairperson" we think that the recent French government  declaration that all women should now be referred to as madame, rather than differentiating between those who are married or unmarried, is right and sensible.  Men, on the whole, have less choices as to how their lives might go; they can't opt to be a mother and they can't, on the whole, use their looks to advance themselves. They just have to work their whole lives.

Time for an International Men's Day, after all?

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Calendar Plane of the Month, March: English Electric Lightning

This picture is from the box of the 1/48 Airfix kit from which you can build the F.2A/F6 versions

The English Electric (later BAC) Lightning is still the only all British-built fighter capable of exceeding Mach 2.  In service with the RAF from 1959 until 1988 its striking natural metal finish was unusual for the British forces. Towards the end of its service life it was rumoured that RAF pilots were allowed to practice intercepting Concorde flights as training for taking on supersonic Russian bombers.  In a NATO exercise in 1988 RAF Flt Lt Mike Hale intercepted a US U2 spy plane at 88,000 feet; far above the altitude at which they Americans thought they could be intercepted by a conventional aircraft.  

The Airfix kit of the Lighning was the very first model kit that Agent Triple P built; some time in the late sixties.  The original kit itself was first introduced to the range in 1963. Oddly, we didn't buy it with our pocket money but was given it to build at weekly sessions with the local child psychiatrist.  We never did discover why we had to go to a psychiatrist at the age of nine (we think it was suggested by the school) but if we were allowed to miss some school and get given a series of free Airfix kits to build then we weren't going to complain.  We do remember, in the waiting room of the old Victorian former school that the psychiatrist's office was in, some posters of teddy bears in a park which we found very sinister.  These gave us a life-long hatred of hydrangeas, as these strange paintings were full of them.

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