Turning Japanese

A while back I decided I wanted to learn Japanese (and you can tell how long ago ago it was by the fact that I bought a cassette).
But I never really took to it and the only words I can remember were “arigato” for thank you and “pikkuniccu” for picnic.  So I could thank someone for giving me food.  That’s probably ok – politeness is terribly important there.

But we have Japanese friends here in London, someone I know is working out there at the moment and – once some of our close relatives emigrate down under in the next few months – flying far enough round the world to actually consider stopping in Japan without it feeling like a huge extravagance to go there is now a reality.  My husband went to Japan nearly a decade ago and still talks about the extrordinary feeling of otherness, and identification with Lost in Translation (although the expereince was a much more positive one for him).

And as a political junkie, today’s election result is something to draw me in, to get me even more interested in the place.  I’ve always wanted to see both Tokyo and the older, cherry blossom Japan, but now I’m fascinated to see a country with a culture so generally different to my own, and which for the first time in 50 years is now experiencing a change of government.

Watch this space to see if we get there!

Why I don’t much care “What Katie did Next”…

Oh dear Jordan. 
It is a tragedy that any marriage breaks down, particularly if kids are involved.  Those words sound like the worst kind of cliche, and it’s a horrible thing that that’s exactly what they have become.

Everyone goes a bit crazy when their life is subjected to radical change.  Most of us don’t start holding fake weddings and dating cage fighters.  But then most of us haven’t been glamour models, subjected ourselves to multiple unnecessary cosmetic operations.  We haven’t met our partners on a reality TV show, nor taken up showjumping whilst also running ourselves as a multimillion pound brand.  And we’ve no experience of trying to do all that while also raising three children with any kind of reference to normality. 
Yep, given she made a fortune selling effectively herself (pictures of her body, her personality – or both that of Katie and alter ego Jordan, her daily life etc.) Katie Price, as many of the broadsheet newspapers said in the last few years, became a kind of post-feminist icon.

While the idea of celebrating someone as a paragon amongst woman because she’s made a fortune from taking her clothes off still rankles a bit, I’m well aware she’s also a fabulously smart businesswoman who has written books about herself, horses and princesses.  She was effective in rebranding herself a a kind of living Barbie –  both a champion at dressage and a sparkly pink-wearing princess. 
So it’s not all about the surgically enhanced boobs then.  Actually I’m rather grateful for them – her swimwear range means that finally there’s a relatively cheap place to get this year’s bikini if you’re over a D-cup.

And while I don’t really go a bundle on reality TV (X-Factor excepted) and didn’t watch the “I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of here” on which Jordan and Peter Andre met, the level of publicity that has surrounded the couple, and which they’ve courted, has given us a window into their lives. You can’t help but peak in.

The thing that was attractive about the Katie and Peter extravaganza was the genuine love they seemed to have for each other, the determination despite their craving for fame to put their family life first. 
We liked the fact that the glamour model and the one hit wonder popstar had found happiness with each other.  
We loved the massively over-the-top wedding with all the pink and silver and the pumpkin coach, the cheesy look-at-us-we’re-a-couple duet covering “A Whole New World” from Disney’s Alladin. 
And as a mum, I loved the way they interacted with their kids, and in particular the way they were so devoted to Harvey, Katie’s oldest son by a footballer, who is disabled.

The post-marriage period is always uncomfortable, but the airing of dirty linen in public – the blaming, the “I’m letting you X million viewers know something I never admitted during our marriage” – is unpleasant.  Particularly the miscarriage stuff.  As so many women know, that’s so intensely personal and really not the sort of thing that should be flung about in public, particularly not as ammunition in an acrimonious split. 

The worst thing to hear from either party is the “I’m so over it now” lie. 
It’s got to be a lie because if you spent that much time together, then a split is not going to be something you get over in five minutes, five weeks, five months.  Ultimately it doesn’t matter who split from whom, or whose fault it was – they’re both obviously hurting.  And the hurt is multiplied not only by press freedom to make things up if they wish to boost circulation but by making public the letting-your-mouth-run-away-with-you idiotic things that should be said with a bottle of tequila and a few good friends rather than in interview with Piers Morgan.

So we’ve just turned off “What Katie did Next”, one of the two ITV2 spin-off series following the now separate lives of Katie and Peter.  
Without the marriage that she’s so “over” that she can’t help referring it ever few seconds, Katie’s story is actually quite sad. 
She travels endlessly from event to event (some with horses, some with books, some with perfume, all with varying levels of clothing). She talks frequently about sex, demands to know where to find sex toy shops on her holiday, spends time with her children and the entourage that look after them (we don’t see her trying to handle the inevitable “I want my daddy” stuff, at least not in the few minutes we were able to tolerate).  May be it’s not so different from what she was doing before.
But the thing that made her special, that made the show worth watching rather than just being a series of photo opportunities advertising her various products, was the marriage.  In all the crazy, lalaland world of fame and celebrity, boob jobs and pink diamonds the family around the breakfast table was the link back to normality. 
With it, Jordan was having it all. 
Without it, she’s not just an embattled single mum with whom people in the same situation can identify with – she’s a multimillionaire with the ability to pay for childcare, a job she apparently loves and enough advantage in her life to do as she damn well pleases a lot of the time.  Strangely it’s a much less attractive package.

If it seemed that either of them were leaving the door open for a reconciliation, if there was any chance of a happy ending, reunion, a reunited family then I’d be a lot more interested.  But right now, I don’t much care “What Katie Did Next”.

A reason to watch the X Factor

Guess what?

Although I’m not a fan of the baying audience first audition format used this season’s X-Factor, there’s a good reason to watch it – a local lad is apparently through to bootcamp.

Daniel Pearce – who briefly found fame as a key member of One True Voice (the boyband that lost out to Girls Aloud in the Christmas number one battle set up by “Popstars: the rivals” in 2002) – is back.   He’s spent his time since then as a backing singer, in the West End in Jailhouse Rock and songwriting. It’s amazing what you can find out in 5 minutes on Google, isn’t it!

Daniel grew up in the same village as me and was always something of a music star at school.  The YouTube footage of Popstars: the Rivals that’s suddenly being posted shows how good his voice and performance were back in 2002.  rumour is he’s even better now.  It’s always good to see someone you know doing well and if anyone’s good enough to deserve this second chance, it’ll be him.  Suddenly this series of the X-factor just got a whole lot more interesting!

Update: this is the footage courtesy of youtube.
 Backstage interview
Update 2: rumours on twitter that he goes out at Judges houses stage…