Thursday, 25 April 2013

Reflections on Anzac Day, 2013

April 25 is Anzac Day. This is the day when Australians and New Zealanders remember those who have died in war. As with Remembrance Day on November 11, it is important to not only honour those who have died but to look ahead, to try and forge a world where war is always the last resort, where better solutions might be found. But in a world where nations have a stunning inability to learn from history, I grow evermore cynical that this ideal may ever be achieved.

My maternal grandfather, Lindsay Gordon Wright, served in Papua New Guinea and Japan during WWII. Over the years, he was quick to share funny stories about condoms ("passion rations") being used to keep water out of rifles, practical jokes played by mischievous Australian soldiers on British officers, and his disdain for military police. But it really wasn't until the last decade of his life - he passed away in 2010 aged 89 - that he really spoke of the horrors he witnessed.

"War is just old men sending young men to die," was his succinct summation of it all.

Serving in WWII changed Lindsay. He was among an incredible group of Australian soldiers who set an amazing example by spending two years in Nagasaki after the war to help rebuild a city devastated by the dropping of an atomic bomb. He learned to speak Japanese, he came home with a deep respect for Japan and its people, which was unusual in his generation, and he refused to pick up a gun again. This was also unusual as he was a farmer and one of the ongoing arguments of the Australian gun lobby is that farmers "need" guns.

True to his word, Lindsay never touched a gun again, he was a strong advocate of gun control ("I've seen what a gun can do to a man," he'd often say) and he never spoke ill of the Japanese. And every time another war started, he'd shake his head in despair.

The invasion of Iraq over WMDs that were never found made him particularly angry. Iraq is a major buyer of Australian wheat and my grandfather was a wheat farmer While it's easy to dismiss his objections as being motivated by vested interests, that misses the bigger picture. War destroys economies as well as lives. Unless you're an arms dealer.

Meanwhile, every year there is a pilgrimage by Australians and New Zealanders to Turkey for an Anzac Day dawn service among the war graves. April 25 marks the anniversary of the landing of Anzac forces at Gallipoli - an event that was to start months of futile fighting over not much territory at all. It was disastrous with lives lost not only through fighting but also disease and suicide.

Over the years, there have been news reports on Anzac Day about the disrespectful behaviour of young visitors to Gallipoli with footage and photographs of drunkenness, empty bottles and cans left behind, people having sex in war cemeteries not uncommon. Thankfully, that doesn't seem to have happened this year - the reports in years gone by offered an awful mix of jingoism and ugly Australian behaviour that made me glad I visited Gallipoli in October 2003 instead. It was peaceful, there was time and space to contemplate it all in the war cemetries for Anzac troops as well as Turks, and the whole place is a lesson in the futility of war.

At a museum, there is a heartbreaking monument to an entire class of Turkish medical students all killed in Gallipoli in 1915. We will never know what world-changing potential was lost from that particular slaughter. There are graves aplenty of teenagers. It is horrific.

Amid all this, there was a moment of bonding between my father and our Turkish taxi driver. They hugged and they agreed that the soldiers on both sides were all victims while British generals removed from the action made life-altering decisions. "British generals with their gin-and-tonics!" was the insult levelled at soldiers' superiors by the taxi driver. But it was still a moving moment.

There is a more nuanced memorial at Gallipoli with the words of Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey:

"Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives...
You are now living in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours...
You, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace, after having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well."

They were Ataturk's words from 1934. They still resonate today as we refuse to embrace each other, to accept differences and to rejoice in what we have in common . As too many of our sons (and daughters) return in coffins from war zones, blind patriotism does not behoove any of us. Solutions that do not involve guns, bombs, drones, tanks, landmines, grenades, mortars and so on and so forth are still, it would tragically appear, to be light years away. Lindsay would shake his head.

Lest we forget. But may we also learn.


Tuesday, 23 April 2013

On the phone with the Hotel Hospital

"Hello, is that the PremierLodge Hospital Hotel?"

"Yes, it is. How can I help you?"

"Good! I am the Lead Nurse at the hospital up the road and I understand you are now open for patients."

"Right you are, Sister!"

"Er, can I speak to the manager please?"

"The manager has gone home for the day. We just operate on a skeleton staff overnight."

"I see. I have a few cases that I'd like to bring in. They are taking up valuable beds, we are full to capacity, but I'm not sure they're quite ready to go home yet."


"I mean, it'd be great if we still had the old convalescent homes but they seem to have gone the way of leeches and trepanning and, well, we all know how hard it is to get a doctor to make a house call these days..."


"Oh, never mind, I am babbling now, reminiscing about days gone by. Are all the staff there trained medical professionals?"

"No, but everyone has undergone the week-long PremierLodge induction course. Our certificates are on the wall in the break room."

"Right. But everything has been cleaned to hospital standards?"

"We have cleaners..."

"Good, jolly good, that's a start. Do the patients get fed at the same time or do they just use room service?"

"Oh, we have a special offer on this week for room service. All patients can get a free half-bottle of wine with every main meal ordered!"

"Wine? I was looking to bring in Mr Jenkins, he is recovering from a stomach ulcer, and Mrs Santori, who had a baby a couple of days ago. I'm not sure either of them are up to a glass of wine at the moment."

"There's a selection of food in the vending machines down the hallway."

"Vending machines? Special offers? Hang on, what is the deal with paying for food? I mean, I know these hotels are meant to save the NHS a fortune but who bills who? Do we pay the hotels to cater? Does the hotel bill the hospital or the local trust? Er, don't tell me the patients get billed?"

"Uh, there has been talk of billing the patients for food. They already have to pay for the telly, phones, soap and extra pillows, blankets and towels..."

"I see. What if one of the patients needs emergency care?"

"The doctor will come back in the morning and do rounds then. Costs a fortune to keep one in overnight on the off chance someone might take a turn for the worse. We're a business, not a charity, y'know."


"But it's cool, visitors can come at any time. It's better than those poxy hospital visiting hours."

"Visiting hours are there to ensure patients get adequate rest."

"But the patients get bored."

"I'm pretty sure Mr Jenkins is too busy dealing with post-operative pain and Mrs Santori is pretty focused on her new baby at the moment. I'm not sure I want to send either of them somewhere where members of the public can wander up and down the corridors at all hours."

"Oh, it's OK - we use G4S for our security here. Anyway, it's all part of the PremierLodge mission statement..."

"The what?"

"Our mission statement. 'PremierLodge Hospital Hotels aim to provide outstanding patient outcomes in a cost-effective, fun medical environment' - it's on the plaque in the foyer."

"Good grief. Is it a medical facility or the set of Grey's Anatomy? Is there a Dr McDreamy on hand?"

"No, but that's a great idea. Might draw in some more clients if we can get a doctor who looks like Patrick Dempsey on staff. We don't want to lose more business to the Infirmary Inn down the road. I'll suggest that at the next staff meeting. Noted!"

"I think I'll just keep Mr Jenkins in for an extra night and send Mrs Santori home tomorrow. If all else fails, they can call an ambulance after they're discharged, I suppose."

"Just remind them that PremierLodge's call centres will be managing 999 calls from now on - 45p a minute, higher from mobiles..."

Image courtesy of

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Sir Stirling Moss and the poor little lady brains

In a departure from regular Rant Mistress transmission, today I am linking to my other website, a motoring website called On The Cars. I have the occasional rant here in between posting stuff for car lovers to lust over. Click on this link: to experience my latest rant on Stirling Moss and why his comments on women in motor sport are utter nonsense.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Kermit Gosnell and the back alley clinic hidden in plain sight

Only a psychopath would not be horrified by the case of Kermit Gosnell.  He is on trial for eight counts of murder after an FBI raid on his "women's health" clinic. The allegations surround Gosnell, who was a doctor but not a qualified OB/GYN, performing abortions after the Pennsylvania state's 24-week limit and killing seven viable babies by snipping their spinal cords. Additionally, a woman died in his clinic from an overdose of anaesthesia. The court has heard appalling accounts of a filthy, substandard clinic with unqualified staff. The court has heard that Gosnell preyed on vulnerable, poor women who struggled to access birth control and early abortion.

There has been much vocal anger from prolife and prochoice commentators about the lack of media coverage this awful case has received. In a testament to the power of social media, the Gosnell case is now getting far more airplay across the board. It was astounding that this has been largely ignored by left- and right-leaning media, all of whom would get agenda-pushing mileage out of it. Interestingly, I first heard about the Gosnell case in 2011 via Amanda Marcotte, a prochoice journalist, but that may just be a reflection on the online circles in which I move.

In any case, the Gosnell case is now out there and it is a shocking example of multiple failings at every level.

Gosnell redefined the back alley abortion by conducting illegal, dangerous, unsanitary procedures in a clinic with massive signage on a busy street. He hid in plain sight.

The court is hearing accounts of foetal remains stored in freezers, bags and jars.

Further allegations would indicate that it wouldn't matter what sort of doctor Gosnell claimed to be, he was not meeting the standards one would expect in a developed country.

It has been alleged that the clinic smelled of animal urine because cats were allowed to roam freely inside. It has also been alleged that instruments were not properly sterilised, disposable medical items were re-used and furniture and blankets were bloodstained. None of this is acceptable in any sort of medical facility.

At a Pennsylvania state level, there were further failings that allowed Gosnell to slip through the net for so long.

In the state of Pennsylvania, there are no laws against impersonating a physician.

In the state of Pennsylvania, the State Board of Cosmetology appears to be more diligent about inspecting nail salons than health authorities are about inspecting medical facilities.

This is a case that should resonate around the world. Pennsylvania's 24-week limit is the same as UK abortion laws (with the exception of Northern Ireland). That is a sane abortion law but in Pennsylvania, it does not appear to be supported by essential regulation to ensure high standards are maintained in the state's clinics. I'd like to think that a British Gosnell would not be allowed to practice in any sort of capacity as a women's health specialist, whether that involved providing abortions or not.

Sometimes big government isn't necessarily a bad thing. In the case of regulating abortion clinics, it is essential. Britain combines regulation with free access to birth control, abortion and counselling. As a result, 91% of UK abortions happen in the first trimester. The only abortions that happen after the 24-week mark in the UK are for medical reasons. The law is quite clear and quite strict on this.

Abortion clinics in the UK are not overrun with heavily pregnant women demanding elective abortions on a whim. This is a ridiculous myth. In the case of Gosnell's desperate patients, they underwent awful procedures in situations where true choice was sadly lacking. A late-term abortion, for whatever reason, is not a pleasant, pain-free experience. Medical need or extreme desperation are pretty much the only two reasons why they happen.

Meanwhile, in Ireland the inquest into the death of Savita Halappanavar is taking place. Savita was 17 weeks pregnant when she died at Galway University Hospital where she presented with serious back pain. It is claimed that in the seven days she was in hospital, her cervix dilated, she leaked amniotic fluid, she was denied an abortion because there was a foetal heartbeat present, and was told Ireland is "a Catholic country" (Hint: It's not. There's no state religion). Savita died of septicaemia on October 28 last year. Argument rages on as to whether terminating her pregnancy might have saved her life.

If she was in Britain or Pennsylvania, she would have been within the legal time limit for an abortion, but the standard of care might have varied considerably between the two places, especially if she had the misfortune to be a poor woman living in Gosnell's neighbourhood.

In short, women deserve better than Gosnell. As a prochoice, I'd argue this means access to birth control, comprehensive sex education and timely abortion. The Gosnell case is also a wake-up call for fighting poverty and all that entails. It is a wake-up call for society to do better by women in vulnerable situations. Vulnerable pregnant women need to be able to make educated choices, whether that means abortion, motherhood or adoption. Such choices should be made with support and without stigma.

As a prochoice, I don't believe the Gosnell case is a reason to ban all abortion. As a human being, I believe it is a call to ensure all healthcare providers are operating hygienically and within the law.

Image courtesy of

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Open season on young people with opinions

It's easy to get annoyed at young people. God, don't they just talk bollocks on public transport, listen to awful music that can still be heard even when they have earphones in, they spend all their time texting and sexting, they seldom form proper sentences, they have no idea how good they have it, bring back National Service and so on and so forth et cetera et cetera et cetera...

And in the light of this week's two big news stories -17-year-old Paris Brown quitting her post as Britain's first Youth Crimine Commissioner in Kent after a Twitter scandal; and the death of Margaret Thatcher - it has not been a great week for opinionated young people or their right to freedom of speech.

Sure, there are plenty of ill-informed young people out there who come out with half-baked opinions, especially when it comes to politics - but I'd rather young people express their views, whatever they may be, and for others to engage in discussion, than for young people to be silenced when speaking up or to be completely apathetic and have no opinions at all.

Regardless of what our political views are as adults, it's a rare person who doesn't look back on their teenaged self and laugh or cringe at some of the things they said or wrote.

It makes me a little bit relieved that there was no Twitter when I was a sometimes sanctimonious 15-year-old. But I stand by things I wrote for the school newspaper on topics such as abortion, smoking in restaurants and wearing school uniform. I was lucky to have that platform in the pre-internet era, where we would produce the Kelso Kronicle with Apple IIe computers and save stories on floppy disks. If 15-year-old me in 1991 had a Twitter account, there is every chance I might have tweeted something that would have bitten me on the bum as an adult.

And so we have the sorry situation of Paris Brown slammed without a trace of irony by the Daily Mail for "vile" racist and homophobic tweets as well as tweets about getting drunk, having sex and taking drugs (by "taking drugs", the pearl-clutchers are horrified at a tweet about how she wanted to bake hash brownies, it's not as if she was the Pablo Escobar of Kent...). The offending tweets were sent when she was aged between 14 and 16.

Naturally the Mail buried the bit about tweets where she complained about Direct Pizza phone staff having poor English skills and said that everyone on Made In Chelsea looks like a "fucking fag". These are the kind of sentiments that would result in the inevitable "Red arrow me all you like but she is only saying what the rest of are thinking" comments.

And so after a week in the £15,000-a-year job, Brown has quit her post. What a farce it all was. The post struck me as an attempt by the Kent police to appear all cool and down with da kidz. But nobody had the wit to check Brown's Twitter feed, something that has, for better or worse, become a pretty standard practice among many potential employers these days. The embarrassment was avoidable and now those stupid tweets will probably haunt her for years to come. At the time of writing, the police were looking into whether her tweets constitute a criminal offence. It's getting completely stupid now.

The whole "youth police czar" smacks of gimmickry which seems especially unnecessary give that Kent Police also has a youth panel made of up people aged 11 and over to give feedback to the police from an under-18s point of view.

Meanwhile, in the wake of the death of Margaret Thatcher, plenty of people who weren't born, or were very young when she was in power, have spoken out. Some young people are Thatcher fans, some are not, but the last 24 hours has been open season on anyone young having opinions on this defining period of British history. Instead of lazily saying: "What would you know? You weren't even born then!", it is surely more constructive to have discussions with young people who are clearly interested in politics.

If you start telling people their opinions are not valid and try to silence them, you're a hypocrite if you then bemoan low voter turnout and political apathy among young people.

Do you have opinions on Hitler or Stalin or Mao Tse Tung despite not living through any of their regimes? Most people do. This is because we can all research and learn from history (or simply watch the History Channel...). Give young people who are interested in politics a bit of credit. Bullying people off Twitter because you think they're too young to have an opinion is mindless. If you do that, you're the one who needs to grow up.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Margaret Thatcher, feminism and speaking ill of the dead...

"Don't speak ill of the dead!" It is such a Victorian-sounding admonishment. The notion that as soon as someone has passed away, they instantly acquire saintliness and it is wrong to criticise them is quaint, at best, and at worst, it is ignorant censorship. With the possible exceptions of Colonel Gadaffi, Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, every time a controversial figure dies, there are always calls to not speak ill of the dead, to not dance on graves, to show some respect.

But while the death of any 87-year-old grandmother is a sad occasion for the family, in the case of Margaret Thatcher, it is important to examine her legacy, to look back on the impact of her 11 years in office and to question why Thatcherism is still alive and well and living at Number 10 Downing Street. She was the first woman to be Prime Minister of Great Britain, she made decisions that many applauded and many condemned, and while she was a frail figure in her old age, her influence to this day cannot and should not be ignored.

In the noise of grief, jokes, celebrations and commiserations, there are plenty of people labouring under the misapprehension that she is a sort of feminist icon. She is not. These are her thoughts on feminism:

"I owe nothing to women's lib. The feminists hate me, don't they? And I don't blame them. For I hate feminism. It is poison.

She conveniently forgets that that without the work of the suffragettes, ensuring electoral equality in 1928, she would not have been able to run for office. Without feminism, she would not have been taken seriously at the ballot box by voters of both sexes in three elections.

Thatcher was good at faux feminist soundbites. Her most famous piece of bumper sticker wisdom was: "In politics, if you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman."

Except everything she did was with the complicity, support and advice of men.

She surrounded herself by men who were sycophantic at first and she was brought down by men. Apart from Baroness Young, she did not promote women to her cabinet above the rank of Junior Minister. While Thatcher made many a young woman believe one day she too could be Prime Minister, she didn't help women in politics to make the step up.

Thatcher froze child benefit and did not invest in affordable childcare, saying she did not want to create a "creche generation" while simultaneously creating an economy where mothers often had to look for work in an era of high unemployment, even if they wanted to be stay-at-home mothers. She did not make the choice to stay at home with the kids easy for many women. This is still a familiar story for many British families under the current government.

Meanwhile, Thatcher was the very model of a modern working mother - this is something that she could not have achieved without the women's movement making this acceptable. Oh, and marrying a wealthy oil man helped too - this also made her rise to power much easier.

Her economic legacy will be debated long after we're all dead. But to champion her as a beacon of feminism is absurd. Who exactly did she pass the torch on to? There have been no women leading major parties since Thatcher. The current cabinet is about as representative of British society as a convention of Martians. And while Thatcher was no idiot, her denial of the importance of feminism showed a lack of respect for history. And history repeats itself to this day.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Shoe-shopping sucks, Carrie Bradshaw can bite me.

This post is for the women who don't care about shoes. This post is for the women who cannot walk in heels. This post is for women who see shoe-shopping as a hideous chore rather an orgasm-inducing joy, as seen on Sex and the City. And this post is for women who have crap feet like mine (see the picture, yes they really are my feet...) and no amount of surgery, physiotherapy, bribery or alcohol will make owning six-inch Jimmy Choos possible.

Like most women, I like to make an attempt at looking presentable when I leave the house. I don't think I am some sort of anti-feminist turncoat if I wear make-up or fishnet stockings (they create the illusion that I might have calves, cut me some freakin' slack...). But fashion doesn't rule my life and shopping for shoes is only done when absolutely essential.

When I need shoes, they are usually ballet flats from Sainsburys that cost a tenner, trainers or sandals. I have a pair of boots I bought to wear to Detroit four years ago that I have just had resoled because they are so damn comfortable. This is less traumatic than buying a new pair. Also, I cannot buy shoes online. I am the woman you will find rocking back and forth in the corner of the shoe shop unable to stop crying because nothing fits properly. With two club feet, one with a missing bone for good measure, you need to stand, walk, run, jump and dance in shoes without wincing before a purchase can be made.

Which brings me to today's debacle.

I must buy silver shoes to wear to be a bridesmaid in September. Yes, I know that is months away but with two club feet that have been surgically rebuilt 13 times, this is not something I should leave to the last minute. I happened to be in Oxford Street today so while I was there, I ducked into a few shoe stores. I wasn't planning on buying anything, I thought I'd just see what's out there.

Good grief. What madness is going on in women's shoe departments? There were plenty of cute flats and brogues, of which I completely approve, but I'd like something a tad dressier for bridesmaid duties. I need something in silver. With just a little heel, nothing towering, just enough to make me look a teeny bit taller than my five feet and one inch of rantiness. And a strap around the ankle would be nice to stop me walking out of the shoes as I walk up the aisle.

Did I find anything remotely relevant? Like hell.

Exhibit A: Plastic flip-flops for 30 quid. They were Ted Baker plastic flip-flops. I don't care. In my native Australia, they are called thongs, they're made of rubber and you used to buy them for a couple of bucks in supermarkets before Havianas happened.

Exhibit B: The horrendous return of cork wedges. People who were clearly born in the 90s were picking these up and seriously considering them without a trace of irony. They look like noticeboards. Can these children not see this?

Exhibit C: An especally vile pair in that boring beige colour Kate Middleton enjoys so much. But they had a platform-type thing under the foot that melded into the heel so it was a big, nasty chunk of Band-Aid coloured awfulness. They looked like the rejects from an artificial limb factory.

Exhibit D: Perspex heels. I have no more words here.

Exhibit E: Ker-razy colours. Now, I am not so shoe-illiterate that I don't appreciate a friskily coloured shoe. While red is as adventurous as I ever get, I understand that a shoe in yellow, lime green, orange or puce is amusing. But in between Josephine and her Technicolor Dream Shoes, can we have maybe a few more pairs in colours like black. I know. What a novel idea.

Exhibit F: Insanely high heels everywhere. If shoes weren't flat, they were sky-high. There is no middle ground here. If, like me, you resemble a newborn foal while trying to walk in heels, this limits your choices. Apparently, kitten heels have gone out of fashion. I do not care if kitten heels are naff. I want them back in shops now.

Alarmingly, however, the only person I have seen wearing kitten heels of late is Home Secretary, Theresa May. Oh Christ, I am now channelling Theresa May when I go shoe-shopping. Help me...

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Just in case anyone is still taking the Daily Mail seriously...

It was a front page that should come as no surprise to anyone, but the irony of the Daily Mail describing anything as a "vile product" is still astounding. Today, Mick Philpott (and his kids, it would appear from the picture that was used...) is the "vile product" of a welfare state, according to the screaming headline. No reasonable person would ever defend the actions of Mick and Mairead Philpott, who burned six of his 17 children to death. But to use an extreme example of one seriously dysfunctional family to demonise everyone on benefits is completely ridiculous.

The Philpott verdict conveniently coincides with the government's welfare reforms, including the ill-conceived "bedroom tax"/"spare room benefit cut"/whatever you call it, it's an unworkable policy that will cost a fortune to administer and fails to take into account a genuine housing shortage or do anything constructive about soaring private rents or job creation.

But with the crown alleging that Mick Philpott set the house on fire in attempt to frame his mistress and obtain a larger council house for themselves and all those children, the timing was Daily Mail gold.

Wait, hang on... This is the same Daily Mail that demonises women who have abortions as well as women who have "too many children".

This is the same Daily Mail that gets outraged about teenaged girls having access to free birth control and teenaged girls who become single mothers.

This is the same Daily Mail who condemns young mothers as feckless, older mothers as irresponsible breeders of deformed babies and women who don't have kids as bitter shrews.

This is the same Daily Mail that has no issue with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge about to move their family of soon-to-be-three into a nine-bedroom house.

This is the same Daily Mail that regularly peddles the "Won't someone think of the children?" mentality while treating underage female celebrities like sex objects.

This is the same Daily Mail that treats rich murderers far more gently than poor ones. When the rich kill, it is a tragedy that not even being a millionaire could have prevented but when the poor kill, it is because they are always feckless criminals.

Oh, and in case anyone has forgotten, there are six children who are dead. 

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Women, chocolate and stupid (but probably effective) marketing

Special K! Now with chocolate! For the ladies! Because ladies love chocolate! But ladies still want to be slim! And Special K will help you stay slim while still indulging your love of chocolate!

Yes, that would be Special K, the breakfast cereal that has been marketed in a patronising manner for as long as I can remember as the breakfast cereal of choice for those who want to be slim and fabulous. That would be the same Special K that has more sugar than a slice of McVities chocolate cake - and that is before Kellogg's adds the chocolate.

Ugh. It's all part of a whole load of idiocy when it comes to marketing food to women and in creating myths that people end up believing. Special K is one of many foods marketed as a ticket to slenderness, even when it is not particularly healthy.

But this isn't about health, is it? It is about looking fabulous. And while there is nothing wrong with looking fabulous, Special K, now with chocolate, is a stupid way to try and attain the weight loss that is associated with all this fabulousness.

If you are an adult and you want to eat Special K with chocolate for breakfast, that's fine. That's your choice. But if you are deluding yourself that it's a healthy breakfast, it's not an informed choice. If you know it's not healthy but you eat it anyway, again, that's your choice but at least you have some awareness about it.

Sadly, when it comes to food, smart women make dumb decisions with alarming frequency. Cue the rise of diets that cut out entire food groups (usually carbohydrates, despite not all carbs being created equal), for example. Or any sort of quick-fix weight loss solution that does not involve exercise or permanent lifestyle change, for that matter. Lifestyle change is boring but it's not as marketable as sexy simple solutions. Or Special K with chocolate.

The marketing of Special K with chocolate as some sort of indulgence (while still keeping you all slim...) is just part of a mass unhealthy relationship with food that is all too common. This is the attitude that labels chocolate or cheese or a dessert as "naughty" - rather than it being something to enjoy as part of a normal diet.

It is rare for a man to say he is being naughty as he tucks into a sticky date pudding. The culture of naughtiness surrounding certain foods infantilises women, creates guilt where none needs to exist, and results in obsession. But companies like Special K need this mentality to continue if they are to sell food under the false guise that it is both healthy and an indulgence. Then again, when it comes to Special K, we shouldn't expect too much from the cereal that was sold with this lame advert: Australian Special K advert from 1991