Girl from the North London Country

…’was anyone else assailed by a creeping sense of dread at the prospect of the second ‘Sex and the City’ film?’.   Now, I bow to no woman (and certainly no man) in my love for Sex and the City.  A razor-sharp column became a razor-sharp book which became a slightly-fuzzier-but-still-pretty-damn-great TV series.   Not since Elizabeth Bennet has a fictional character so precisely captured how women like to see themselves as Carrie Bradshaw did (the quirky joie de vivre! the bruised but resilient romanticism! the quipping gay friends and great legs!  – although, admittedly, the latter is only really hinted at in Jane Austen’s glorious opus).  And, personally, I found it secretly (or, indeed, not so secretly) satisfying to hear baffled male complaints about the series (‘But all the male characters are just ciphers’ – yes, imagine a work of fiction reducing one’s gender to a series of tired stereotypes; must be annoying).  For all its Blahnik-worshipping frivolity, there was something essentially true and decent about it; the way that rock-solid female friendship was at the very centre of it, the basic self-belief of all the characters, the way it dealt with life’s complexities – ageing, motherhood, loneliness, love – without ever presenting the characters as passive, or victims or cliches.  For all the cynicism of the source material, it was probably the most idealistic programme on TV in its portrayal of female solidarity.   I loved it to Cosmopolitan-quaffing bits.

So, in summer 2008, I met my friend Anita in Upper Street, both of us wearing our SATC tribute outfits, and scampered excitedly into the cinema for what was sure to be a night to remember.   Alas, what disillusionment awaited.  Reams of cyberspace have been filled with the myriad failings of the thing so I won’t dwell on them at length, but, for me, the sharpest disappointment was the way that the spirit of the programme had gone entirely astray.  The salty dialogue had been replaced by psuedo-girly shrieking and a ‘diarrhea joke’, the friendship by bitchy competitiveness and the designer fashion had become a selling point in itself rather than, as it had been, a way for Carrie to express her questing search for identity and, through it, love (pretentious, moi?).   Jennifer Hudson’s character, as has been noted far more authoratively elsewhere, was practically a Mammy, and the psuedo-meaningful moment when Carrie gave her a really ugly handbag deserves some kind of award for horridness.  More succinctly; it sucked.

Alas, nothing I’ve yet heard about the second film, due to be released this year, gives me any comfort.  The tastelessness of the foursome trooping to Marrakech on holiday (no doubt with poor Kim Cattrall having to gurn at some phallic bit of pottery in the souk) , the weariness of the much-vaunted recession plotline, the exhausting prospect of Chris Noth shoving himself into a Shatner-style girdle for 2 hours – I can barely be bothered to carp about it, much less drag myself to see it.    To refer again to the blessed Austen – ‘That will do, my child.  You have delighted us long enough’.


As a devoted reader of the Bad Science column in the Grauniad and a determined mocker of my beloved friend Emma’s faith in homeopathy, I have long scorned alternative therapies of all kinds.  Alas, however, I will now be forced to review my position and even, possibly, change my mind (I’m pretty sure the last time I did this was 1999 and it related solely to whether I preferred the NME or the Melody Maker.  Innocent days.).    For various reasons (not all related to self-absorbed exes), the last few weeks have been pretty stressful and I’ve had a headache for 10 days.  Having scared myself silly via the  hypochondriac’s paradise that is the NHS online symptoms guide, I was recommended to see an osteopath by a colleague.  I duly toddled along, expecting it to be as irritatingly pointless as every massge I’ve ever had (possibly this is my type A-ness in action, but something about being gently stroked to whale music makes my shoulders scrunch up somewhere around my ears).   Oh no, ooh la la, this was a different kettle of fish altogether.   When the wonderful Kelly McKay at the Neal’s Yard Therapy Rooms agreed with me that the clicking sound in my neck might be something which needed sorting out, I first got that fizz of recognition you have on a great first date when you discover that you both hate John Lennon or people who call Stoke Newington ‘Stokey’.  When she told me that I was actually more-than-averagely flexible and could progress really quickly at yoga, I puffed up with flattered pride.  Then, when the treatment started and she did something that made my neck emit a satisfying ‘popping’ sound, I knew that osteopathy was destined to be one of the great, profound passions of my life.  God, it was great.   A small price to pay for a lighter heart, a broader smile and the ability to turn one’s head more than 10 degrees to the right.

et cetera