Is This Mutton?

A personal style and beauty blog by a working woman who wants to instil joie-de-vivre in the over 50s

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Friday, 17 January 2020

Latest Podcast, Book and TV Recommendations

Over 50s woman listening to music with headphones on
Hi folks and welcome to Five for FriYAY, the occasional post that celebrates the coming weekend and gives some suggestions for great reading, viewing and listening.

Podcast: Postcards from Midlife 

There are quite a few new podcasts aimed for women in mid life. They usually cover all the negative aspects of being older, so unless there's humour, I find them a bit of a turn-off.

The Times has launched a new podcast called Postcards from Midlife, featuring Lorraine Candy, editor of their Style magazine and former editor of Elle, and Trish Halpin, former editor of Marie Claire and Red.  Both women are in their early 50s. The first episode featured a discussion on libido with Suzy Godson. A very promising start: the chemistry between Candy and Halpin is good, and there are a few jokes and witticisms.

Podcast: Man In The Window

If you like true crime, Man In The Window from LA Times/Wondery is an absolutely superb example of the genre.  It covers the crimes of a serial rapist and serial killer known variously as the East Area Rapist and the Golden State Killer. The criminal started his spree in the early 70s and committed at least 13 murders, more than 50 rapes, and over 100 burglaries in California until 1986.  He was only recently apprehended, thanks to amazingly complex and detailed genetic research.

The podcast is meticulously researched and presented by Paige St. John, a Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter. What's most fascinating about it is the attitude in the 70s towards rape.  It was hardly ever investigated as a crime.  Women who were raped were expected to keep quiet about it. There was certainly no counselling or help to recover.

One of the reasons that the serial killer and rapist went undiscovered for so long was that police forces refused to co-operate with each other, and there were often political reasons for not wanting to expose a series of crimes in an area. It was largely thanks to amateur crime buffs and retired police officers that progress was made.

The last episode is a discussion about attitudes to rape in the 70s and 80s. One of the saddest aspects of the case is that the law of statute in California expired very quickly in the 70s, so the criminal cannot be convicted for the rapes committed then.

TV: The Witcher, Atypical and Wisting 

We haven't had Netflix for long so we're like over-excited kids in the sweet shop.  Atypical is an amusing series about an adolescent with Asperger's and his family life. It's honest and can be both poignant and funny.  I was pleased to see Jennifer Jason-Leigh who was in some memorable films in the 90s, including the creepy Single White Female.

The Witcher is the "latest Game of Thrones clone," a fantasy series featuring Guernsey heart throb Henry Cavill. It's based on a series of novels by a Polish writer that are even more successful than GoT.  The series is not as good as GoT but it's entertaining. The main drawback is that not much is explained, so you're constantly having to look things up.

The drama constantly veers between the past, the present and the future, and it's hard to identify which period we're in. The Witcher is a man of few words but has a memorable and varied selection of grunts. Apparently he was a lot more talkative in the books, but the silent and brooding version portrayed by Cavill won the day.

Finally, on BBC 4  (and the iPlayer), Wisting, the Norwegian detective, was also dealing with a serial killer plus two members of the FBI who were flown over to help.  Episode five was absolutely gripping. Highly recommended.

Books: Another Tour de Force from Ian McEwan

The cover of Ian McEwan's book Machines Like Me
In his latest novel Ian McEwan confronts the imminent battlefield of Artificial Intelligence and morals and ethics.  Machines Like Me is set in a surreal 1982 where Mrs Thatcher as Prime Minister has lost the Falklands War and is soon to be replaced by Tony Benn.  There is civil unrest because of robots replacing humans at work, and autonomous cars are commonplace.

A shiftless man, Charlie Friend, spends an inheritance on buying one of the first artificial humans, Adam.  Charlie and his girlfriend, who lives upstairs, agree to independently program Adam in terms of how they want to shape his personality, from various check lists.

Jealousy rears its ugly head when Charlie realises his girlfriend has been having sex with Adam, and Adam believes he is in love with her.  But worse is to come when the robot takes a very black and white view of a legal issue, and is unable to deal with nuances and interpretation as humans would. And faced with being used as slaves, and finding themselves in a world they can't understand, the artificial humans struggle to cope.  A fascinating and accessible read.

Books: Queenie, the Black Woman's Bridget Jones?

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams has been described thus, but I think it diminishes the quality and impact of this powerful book, which was short listed for the Costa First Novel Award.  The blurb on Amazon doesn't help:  "Queenie Jenkins can't cut a break. Well, apart from the one from her long term boyfriend, Tom. That's definitely just a break though. Definitely not a break up. Then there's her boss who doesn't seem to see her and her Caribbean family who don't seem to listen (if it's not Jesus or water rates, they're not interested). She's trying to fit in two worlds that don't really understand her. It's no wonder she's struggling."

There's far more to the book than it seems.  Queenie is trying to get through depression and has spiralled into self-destructive behaviour.  She emerges triumphant. I love the humorous touches and the sense of community in London.

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Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Remembering Your First Bra - and Link Up

Flat lay showing the Playtex Invisible Elegance balconette bra and midi knickers. Copyright: Is This Mutton dot com
In my pre-New Year post I talked about how I was going to approach blogging this year and how I  would work with fewer brands and choose them very carefully. Like most of us I adore lovely lingerie and I have a soft spot for brands that have been around for many years, with a strong heritage. So I was thrilled when Playtex got in touch.

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Make Your Views Heard: It's the Annual Is This Mutton? Survey - and link up

It's time for women over the age of 50 to make their voices heard. Take part in the 2020 annual Is This Mutton? survey on attitudes to ageing, fashion and beauty.
I need your help friends. Will you share your views on what it's like to be 50+ today?  It's the second Is This Mutton? survey, and since the first, a year ago, things have changed considerably for us.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Sentence a Day: Christmas And More - December 2019

Sun Dec 1 December
Bright and sunny. Drove home from my mum's in Plymouth - a long journey, six hours.  Opened  the first window of my beauty Advent calendar. A big window indicating a big gift, a Morphe eyeshadow palette in neutral shades.

Mon Dec 2
V tired after weekend and long drive but went to office. Expecting to be in a different office but we haven't moved.

Tues 3
Posted vote for the General Election - I'll be on the way home from America when it happens.  Gym.

Weds 4
Up extra early to prepare salads for lunch and get my link up email out. Office. On my drive saw deer and a spectacular sunrise and sunset. Set up my new nativity stable.
Thurs 5
Thrilled that Advent calendar gift today was an Elemis day cream. Needed a new moisturiser. At work we exchanged our Secret Santa presents.  My mystery benefactor gave me a candle and some Lindor chocs.
Fri 6
At home. Raining.  Dreamed I was trying to swim across the Hoover Dam. Was struggling against the turbines.

Sat 7
Woke to devastating news, the husband of John's sister Kate had died in India. He was 58. Kate was already on her way from London, having been told he was deteriorating in hospital. He was very quiet but made a big impact on the world, particularly with the children's school he founded and funded in India.

I had a lot to do with my business trip to the US tomorrow. Gym, shopping, ironing.  Put the Christmas tree up. Packed case and gave myself a manicure. Wrote day by day menus for J.
Sun 8 December
Got to airport mega early. 10 hour flight,  bought a virtuous salad but didn't eat it as the curry smelt so good. Watched films Animal (entertaining),  Happy New Year Colin Burstead  (improvised drama about a dysfunctional family) and Ad Astra (overly long and ponderous).  Got to hotel in downtown San Jose at 5.30pm. Watched 2nd Mamma Mia film in room.  Music from bar in the courtyard seems very loud although I'm on 6th floor.

Mon 9 Decermber
In a big planning meeting until 3.30. Then we split into teams for a light hearted scavenger hunt. San Jose has lots of Christmas trees. Nice to get outdoors. Drinks. Then early night for me.
Tues 10 Dec
Went to our San Jose office for meets with colleagues.  Went to a Chinese restaurant for lunch. The Brits all got a bit crazy in the afternoon  - we couldn't figure out how to get water out of the tap, and found a human organ for transplant in the fridge!  (It wasn't really an organ but a very realistic bag.....).

Weds 11 Dec
Up at 4am. I don't mind this, I spend a couple of hours reading and doing emails. Then had a full day's meeting with the marketing team.  Part of it involved taking a partially written script, breaking into teams and dramatizing the rest of the story in video, podcast or "live" play format.  Day ended with a team dinner in hotel.

Thurs 12 Dec
Awake at 3am. Today we had a smaller meeting of the campaign team.  I had to leave before the team building activity for the airport, but as it was something I've done before  ("escape room") I wasn't bothered. The flight was delayed by a couple of hours. A technician had to drive from San Francisco to repair something. Saw the election exit poll before we boarded the plane, predicting a landslide win for the Conservatives  (which is what happened).
Friday 13 Dec
Finally back home.  Didn't sleep much. John went to a charity pub quiz, I was too tired.

Sat 14
Slept for 10 hours! Did food shopping, wrapped presents. Watched the final of Strictly Come Dancing.

Sun 15
Have a bad cough and sore throat, legacy of US trip. Didn't go to gym. Roast beef.

Mon 16
Hooray, reached target weight 9st 7, 1st time since 25 Aug 2016. Worked from home to avoid spreading cold germs around. Boiler not working! Arranged for British Gas to come tomorrow to fix it.

Tues 17 Dec
Worked from home.  Boiler sorted. Went to gym. Devastated to hear that one of the founders, Tracy, has died in her early 50s. Terrible news.

Weds 18
We finally moved into a different, larger, office in the same corridor.  Much bigger and tidier. Finally found pair hot pink boots - in the US - and ordered them.

Thurs 19
Still not sleeping well and feel very congested, so worked from home. Work is stressful, too much to do. Have neglected blog and not sure if I want to go back to it.

Fri 20
Worked nonstop. So much to do. So stressed I was weepy. John was nonplussed.

Sat 21
Quiet day of shopping and housework.

Sun 22
Had roast beef for lunch.  Depriving us of poultry until Xmas Day so we appreciate it more.

Mon 23
Finally I'm on holiday. Went with John's daughter and her husband to one of the carol concerts at the the Royal Albert Hall, with dinner first. Very festive and jolly.

Tues 24
Broke with tradition-  usually have sausage rolls and baked beans on Christmas Eve. Had falafals and salad. Determined not to regain any weight this Christmas.

Christmas Day
Woke up early and saw a lovely sunrise. Was spoilt with lots of presents.  Chatted to mum. on the phone, she was spending the day with my brother's family. Our roast turkey  crown wasn't dry (shocker!) although I did have one disaster where a tray of parsnips, carrots and squash got irredeemably burned. The crackers were a bit of a let down! Tiny metal cooking implements  (at least they weren't plastic).
Streamed and watched Oliver (1968) one of my all-time favourite films, even though I don't usually like musicals.

Boxing Day
Fun day with several family members round, including our baby granddaughter. More presents and games. Cooked a ham for lunch along with cold turkey, jacket potatoes, coleslaw and salads. Desserts were Heston's Golden Delicious Christmas pudding, cracking chocolate tart or sticky toffee pudding.

Fri 27
Mild with a blue sky. Went for a bracing walk and pub lunch. Very enjoyable
Sat 28
Went to the gym and shopping. Went to Rachel and Sean's for an hour. First time I've 'met' their new cat Eric.

Sun 29
Was planning  a big photography shoot for the blog but only took a couple of pictures in the end - enough for a blog post, the first for three weeks. Roast chicken.

Mon 30
Sunny. Went to the gym. Went in town  (London) to return something to what I call "the Mothership" (John Lewis).  It was strangely relaxing in the Haberdashery dept even though I don't knit or sew.  Watched last episode of The Witcher.

Tues 31 Dec: New Year's Eve
Did some photography and wrote a blog post for tomorrow. Watched In Search of The Wilderpeople, a quirky film from New Zealand. Asleep by 9.30, woke up at midnight with all the racket (fireworks etc). Happy New Year!

Join me tomorrow, Wednesday, for #WowOnWednesday.

Sharing this post with Claire Justine, #sharealllinkup at Not Dressed as Lamb,Spread the Kindness at Shelbee on the Edge, Muttonstyle and #BloggerClubUk or #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings.

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