Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Here's to the Rising Sun

My friend A sent me this videoclip of a Japanese pop group (do people still say "videoclip"?).

She reminded me how stoic the Japanese have been throughout the earthquake and all that it has brought with it, and she couldn't be more right.

After the earthquake hit, my colleagues in Japan approached the situation with utter resilience. They continued to work as usual, and only once mentioned that "perhaps they might need some support from Hong Kong, as their creative team wasn't in the office." There was a conference call on something not particularly important on the Monday after the weekend that it hit, and the entire team called in, insisting that "Tokyo was ok". Only after much pressing, did one of them mention that he had evacuated his family to the south. Every foreigner I know who was there said they couldn't believe how amazingly calm everybody was, how thoughtful and how brave they were.

Here's to Japan.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

The dating game

Over a rather delicious plate of foie gras creme brulee with friends the other night at La Marmite, the conversation turned to dating in New York.

Now, anyone who lives or has lived in New York will know that being single and female there is hell. To say competition is rife would be an understatement and, what's worse, is that the prize isn't even that exciting. I haven't done the research, but go to any party and you will see a sea of beautifully dressed women, all looking hopefully across at you as you enter the front door, glazing past you and focusing on your right shoulder in hopes that you might be coming with a man... and that maybe that man might be single.

Upon moving to New York solo, finding a man quickly becomes a full time job - just secondary to building your high powered career which keeps you intellectually superior, more affluent than you were wherever you came from and, inevitably, much more intimidating to a man than you've ever been before. And the fact that there are thousands of women just like you (maybe a little taller, shorter, rounder, thinner) doesn't help matters much either.

In comes the dating game. A game of hide and seek which becomes the only way to stay ahead of the game, keep men calling, keep you on dates and prevent you from getting your heart broken. No, I never said this would help anyone find love, it just helps you keep your head above water, because it inevitably results in your heart freezing over a little (T had to conduct some serious de-frosting - which I'll leave for another day).

So, here are some thoughts on how I think the game works, and how to play it:

How things go when the girl doesn't play the game:
1*. Boy meets girl at party/bar/club. They get on well blah blah
2. They kiss goodnight and end up going to his apartment
3. Girl says goodbye to boy in the morning as she's already made brunch plans to gossip about exactly that night with her friends. Boy says he's so happy to meet her and promises to call
4. Girl goes to brunch
5. Girl waits for boy to call. Boy doesn't call. Ever.

How things go when the girl plays the game:
1*. Boy meets girl at party/bar/club. They get on well blah blah
2. Girl leaves the party earlier as she has another party to go to. Sorry, mate, bye! Boy sniffs a chase and asks her for her number
3. Three days later (two is ok, one hits the ego - if they met on a Friday, he won't text until Wednesday), boy texts girl (no call) to ask her out for dinner in three days time (same as above re ego and risk management)
4. Girl replies 6 hours after receiving text (she's busy, thank you) that yes, she can meet
5. Girl text boy on the day of the date that she will be a little late
6. Girl arrives 10 minutes late. Dinner proceeds. Girl is warm, friendly etc but distant
7. Girl says she's going home after dinner. Boy walks girl home. Girl makes it quite clear she won't be up for any kissing
8. Boy texts that night that "it was a wonderful evening". Girl replies she enjoyed it to (throw a bone).
9. Next day (or two), boy texts again to meet again later that week. Girl agrees.
10. Repeat points 7-9 ad infinitum, adding day dates, afternoon walks and candle-lit dinners where appropriate

*Same applies to online dating

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Just a little prick

Picture from Elle France on the wonders of surgery

Like any product life cycle, mainstream beauty care is in the process of taking one large step to the right.

Face cleansers, scrubs and creams, once for-girls-only, have been asked to step aside for the much sexier, cooler, more effective men's 'grooming' products. Much like cars, men need to be "turboed", "boosted" and "pummeled." Of course, this isn't new news. Seeing male models with their shirts open to reveal glistening six packs while handing out "ab sculpting" cream round the streets of Hong Kong on a Saturday night is no longer a surprise, and nor is the fact that all the Clarins for Men creams "ejaculate" rather than pour. But what has resulted from this obvious shift to the right, with women's products stepping out of the limelight and men's products stepping in, is a new participant to the left - surgery.

Once reserved for the rich and famous (and mad), surgery is now the new fountain of youth for women. Away with your oxygenating face cream! Flush your placenta masks down the toilet! We now have botox, eye lifting, face peeling, collagen implants all for under 100 GBP a pop! Magazines' beauty pages are now full of enthusiastic testimonials and undercover journalist's recounts of how yoga once a week and little prick of a needle here and there once a month has changed lives.

So, where does that leave the rest of us? Those of us 'old fashioned' types who would rather not schedule an eye lift with our pedicures. Next to the hopes and dreams of botox, Estee Lauder's Hydrationist Revival Plant Extract cream's promise to "leave skin youthful and healthier" seems rather feeble.

As I roam the aisles of Watson's pharmacy and Harvey Nichols' beauty floor in search of something that can meet the new competition, I find myself staring longingly at the men's aisle. Their creams aren't being overshadowed by a greater enemy, there's still hope with them. T's Men Expert Pure & Matt Bright Charcoal Black Coal suddenly has a whole new appeal.