"Yes, I must"

Travel David Sedaris in China.  Warning -- article contains some scenes of a scatological nature:
"Another thing one notices in China is the turds. "Oh please," you're probably thinking. "Must you?"

To this I answer, "Yes, I must", for if they didn't affect the food itself, they affected the way I thought about it. In Tokyo, I once saw a dog pee on the sidewalk. Then its owner reached into a bag, pulled out a bottle of water and rinsed the urine off the pavement. As for dog faeces, I never saw any trace of them. In Beijing, you see an overwhelming amount of shit. Some of it can be blamed on pets, but a lot of it comes from people. Chinese babies do without diapers, wearing instead these strange little pants with a slit in the rear. When a child has to go, its parents direct it towards the kerb or, if they're indoors, to a spot they think of as "kerby". "Last month I saw a kid shit in the produce aisle of our Chengdu Walmart," a young woman named Bridget told me.

This was the seventh day of my visit and so desensitised was I that my first response was, "You have a Walmart?"

"perennially familiar for anyone under the age of thirty"

Film Ultra Culture reviews Eurotrip:
"EuroTrip has proved a surprisingly enduring piece of pop cultural currency, and not only in the £3 bin of most HMVs (though it inevitably does well there too). Sequences like the Parisian robot fight and Cooper’s hot tub subterfuge seem to be perennially familiar for anyone under the age of thirty, even if they don’t quite represent the film’s finest moments. The latter scene was originally conceived while Berg, Mandel and Schaffer were doing rewrites on snowboarding comedy Out Cold, but they liked it so much that they eventually decided to save it for their own movie. That three professional screenwriters would be so excited about a sequence that’s essentially just an excuse to see an 18-year-old rubbing her tits for a bit is further evidence that they might not be the modern-day Swifts I’m so tempted to paint them as."
The film is on BBC One tonight at a quarter to midnight and there's a round up of UC's other coverage here. I'm embarrassed to say it's also one of my favourite films.

the forefront of the information age

Science One of the key lectures I remember from my 90s Information Studies degree was about how in the future, people would stop bothering to remember trivia because thanks to libraries and computers it would just be there. The tutor was supposed to placing our potential work into context, make us feel as like we were going to be at the forefront of the information age, as important as teachers, scientists and the like.

Even though within a few years, Google and Wikpedia rendered obsolete about eighty percent of what I was taught on that degree, but it seems some of it has finally become relevant and this ars technica article looks like someone has stolen the lecture notes I think I still keep hidden in the bottom of my wardrobe (which is what along with under the bed is what people in flats have instead of an attic):
"In the age of Google and Wikipedia, an almost unlimited amount of information is available at our fingertips, and with the rise of smartphones, many of us have nonstop access. The potential to find almost any piece of information in seconds is beneficial, but is this ability actually negatively impacting our memory? The authors of a paper that is being released by Science Express describe four experiments testing this. Based on their results, people are recalling information less, and instead can remember where to find the information they have forgotten."
That's exactly how my brain works but I just assumed it was an expression of my librarian gene. Apparently not.

Chris Carter was probably cribbing from Whitaker or Holmes.

TV With its oscillating idioms and content, the Doctor Who franchise is capable of provoking a range of critical responses. Sometimes whole books have been written, or at least long essays, too long probably and sometimes they’re posted to this and other blogs, thousands of words devoted to expressing the fan opinion of what’s been put before them and in the case of Torchwood often written way into to the wee smalls of the morning. Yet sometimes, just sometimes, a critical response can be summed up in just three letters and a punctuation mark, three letters and a punctuation mark which have become popularised on the internet and mobile phones but which seem to contain as much meaning as those books.


Except of course, your expectation is for something slightly longer than that but honestly, if Torchwood: Miracle Day did anything and even in this week when there have been enough things to put a liberal like me in a good mood, it made me laugh out loud. From Gwen’s bazookering of a chopper on what looked liked the same beach where the Doctor’s farewell to Rose was filmed to Rex’s inconsistent approach to a crutch to PC Andy’s promotion, Russell T Davies’s opening episode The New World, I giggled and giggled and giggled again. For all its absorption into a dodgy SD NTSC transfer and pretensions towards 24, Torchwood’s lost none of its ability to be absolutely bloody bonkers and like nothing else on television. Including Doctor Who itself.

I’m very conscious that we have ten weeks together on this, and if it’s nearly impossible to give a decent opinion on the first half of a Who two parter let alone a tenner.  What will say that as anyone who’s read The Writer’s Tale will know, Davies’s thought processes lend themselves to find complexity in the simplest of ideas, and deciding that the world’s population can’t die has three o’clock moaning email to Ben Cook written all over it. But like turning everyone on the planet into the Master is so clever, it’s weird to realise that no one else seems to have thought of it before.  Already in this episode he's investigating the implications, hospital wards filling up with patients, medics becoming messianic figures, suicide no longer being an option to save us from our drab wretched lives.

Arguably, unlike C of E, this didn’t have the single eye-catching shot that encapsulated that idea. Bill Pullman's chemical convulsion probably will have resonated better in the country were such barbaric things are still permitted (like I said, I’m a liberal), yet like the polls piercing Rex’s chest in a cramped car at night it was visually relatively low-key, lacking the massive scale of say the initial flash forward in Flash Forward. The rapid fire news reports about no one dying and the coining of the title of the series filled in somewhat (I found the lack Trinity Wells distracting) as did the cutting of spinal cord of that still living human barbecue. But like I said, we have another nine, and if C of E is anything to go by, the impending remake of Soylent Green is probably a sideshow.

It’s also an episode in which Davies asks seasoned fans to trust him just as we did in 2005 with Rose. Like Rose, the writer has to introduce a whole universe to a new viewership and still hope to retain our attention. He doesn’t really have to. If we sat through the first two seasons of Torchwood, we’ll sit through anything but it’s quite charming just how closely he follows the narrative form employed in every opening iteration of the Whoniverse since An Unearthly Child. Human becomes curious. Human discovers alien/alien hunters. Human becomes mixed up in alien/alien hunter’s adventures. Well, alright it’s also the pilot episode of The X-Files, but Chris Carter was probably cribbing from Whitaker or Holmes.

Esther’s investigation into Torchwood, her meeting with Jack, the explaining of exactly what the institute was for new viewers (skipping the werewolf) and his subsequent retconning of her was of course almost exactly how Gwen was brought into the team in Everything Changes. There was also some of Rose’s visual DNA in here too as the viewpoint character for new viewers is hurried out of an exploding building by our inexplicable hero. An interesting question is how well modulated all this was, how a new viewer encountering this mythology would have been lost. It didn’t seem as ferocious as the Gallifreyan info-dump in the TV movie (the closest comparison) but how did the Gwen scenes play with an audience who had no clue who she was?

Because let’s face it, what is Torchwood? The first two series were five go mad in Cardiff, C of E told the story of what happened when everything changes and now? To and extent it’s the Gwen and Jack show, but without the Hub, without the alien weaponry, it risks simply being another alien invasion (assuming that what this is) show which happens to have these few old characters in the middle of it. But perhaps that’s the point. Perhaps with each new channel, Davies is deliberately bending the format, taking advantage of the fact that Torchwood as a premise wasn’t on the most solid of foundations, wasn’t the UNIT-like series we’d all been expecting and is using it as a vehicle to tell the kinds of stories he couldn’t in Doctor Who. Which is fine.

Of course we’re also being introduced to these new characters and again it’s early days. Bill Pullman’s in full The Last Seduction mode for Oswald Danes, the squinty eyes, delivering, his lines, one, word, at, a time, and then a bunch of them together before pausing, again, for, emphasis. The Master for adults, the too long teaser at the close of the episode (is that how they’re going to be filling up the add space each week?) suggesting a Jonas Nightengale-like meteoric rise into evangelism. Mekhi Phifer’s faux-Bauer figure seems at this point to be a rather standard CIA agent as does Esther Drummond, the performances also not quite at the same high register as the old regulars, though Barrowman is dialling himself down a touch.

Perhaps the triumph of The New World is how little some aspects have changed. Gwen and Rhys are just the same albeit, y'know, rural, and it’s astonishing to see the Coopers returning from Something Borrowed ("Are you feed him lard?"). Similarly, Gwen’s relationship with Andy pouring over the impending doom sends us right back to their initial scenes together in Everything Changes though once again their double act is going to be thwarted by events. Perhaps the biggest surprise is Jack, a rather more understated figure though to an extent we’re rather in the dark as to what happened between meeting Alonso in Dorium Maldovar’s place. I know, I know, nine more weeks, plenty of scenes to be filled with dialogue.

But it’s probably impossible for us fans to watch any nu-Who and try to work out how it fits. What didn’t fit was the massive continuity error which suggested Gwen joined Torchwood in 2006, which as readers of Ahistory, the TARDIS Index File and this will know is year too early. But given that everyone on the planet seems to have forgotten about the Daleks, the planet going out of orbit and Gallifrey coming into orbit, perhaps the cracks on Amy’s wall when she was seven years old or the Doctor rebooting the universe also swallowed up the extra year added in Aliens of London, though more likely, as was the case in The End of World and whoever produced the info graphics for The Waters of Mars, Russell’s big brain simply forgot.

We’ll have The Sarah Jane Adventures discussion some other time because it’s getting late and there’s nine more reviews to fill. But let’s just mark the card on what else worked in this opening episode. Bharat Nalluri (a Kudos veteran) took full advantage of the budget and made this look like a feature film; this is Independence Day to C of E’s Quatermass and it’s interesting that a British director should make this thing seem so American. The gathering in the spot above where the rift used to be in Cardiff Bay was a nice touch even if Ianto’s shrine was out of shot. Like so much of the episode, for all the changes, this is still Torchwood. LOL.

On the Sugababes reunion front ...

Music  We've not been here for a few months, and so here's an update.  The Canderelbabes or "Sugababes" were dropped by their record company a few months ago which seemed to be the end, but now they've been signed by Sony and so the merry-go-round continues.  Still the same members which makes a change.

On the Sugababes reunion front ... Keisha apparently made-up with Heidi and Amelle during the Wireless Festival.  Heatworld reports on awkward moments but RTE has reconciliatory quotes.  But there was still no word on relations with the proper group members.  Until last night when I asked:

Which isn't quite "the album'll be out by Christmas" but it's something.

Updated 20/07/2011

Recorded last night at a secret location, Keisha runs through a couple of old hits including Overload, their debut single. The most notable element other than the trellis is that the singer doesn't attempt to mimic any of the other members but sounds just right on her own parts. For some of us (well me) this is as exciting as when Paul McCartney properly began touring with his old Beatles songs.


an uncomfortable reminder of Abbadon the giant grey Chewits monster

[Note: Seriously, don't read the following if you haven't heard the episode which is available to download from AudioGo. For that matter, don't read the BBC's own programme synopsis which just might tip you off. Right, let the squeeing commence.]

Best. Radio. Torchwood. Ever.

If the first of these lost files was fairly hum-drum and yesterday’s was entertaining but superfluous, James Goss’s The House of the Dead made the leap into the ambitious territory of Children of Earth by exploding our expectations and producing a truly great piece of character drama. Goss, author of the award winning Dead Air, has been known to bend the curve a bit in terms of structuring his stories, rarely formatting them around more traditional forms of story telling. But he’s the first writer, I think, to take advantage of the audience's expectations of the time frame in which an adventure is set and then use it create an existential crisis within one of the main characters.

Let’s be quite clear – the half hour leading up to the twist don’t make this seem like it's going to be the most impressive of episodes. It feels terribly derivative even by this franchise’s standards. Investigating time-encrusted “haunted” houses has been a regular pastime in the Whoniverse this past few years, from the slippage in Captain Jack Harkness to the Sarah Jane strand in Lost in Time. Plus the Siliath (or however its spelt), the ancient demon hidden in the rift is an uncomfortable reminder of Abbadon the giant grey Chewits monster that wrecked half of Cardiff or at least its wastelands in End of Days.

This was Torchwood at its messiest with Jack’s “revelations” clunkily delivered but now I think Goss is playing about with our expectations, feeding into some of our prejudices about early Torchwood’s general inability to pace episodes properly and know who the viewpoint character is so as to throw us of the scent in terms of that timeframe. In the rubbish version, the Gwen stuck in traffic was an audio expositional prop until she arrived just in the nick of time to save everybody perhaps by snapping the regulars and attending supporting character out of their reverie in being reunited with their loved ones from the past (the central idea behind the first radio Torchwood, Lost Souls).

Then, oh, then.

Someone on Gallifrey Base has already joked “So much for him never coming back, ho ho” and it would be simple to interpret this as a sop to the #saveianto campaign in giving coffee boy a properly heroic death and allowing him and Jack the chance to go over a few things. But the #saveianto campaign want to have him back for good and how must they have felt to experience their hero die again?  Having the two of them discuss his potential permanence in the real world was just plain cruel, though my interpretation was that the characters were discussing something they both knew wouldn't be possible.  Fatwa's against Goss will no doubt be forthcoming.

Plus like the earlier part of the drama, it’s not a twist that hasn’t been seen before but of course to mention the names of said previous visual entertainments employing said surprise would ruin those too, but you’ll know which ones they are if you’ve seen them. What sold it here was the writing and the performances. Both of the actors were at the top of whatever game they have and Goss investigated exactly how Ianto should feel about being the man this immortal fixed point in time would want to reappear. In the best tradition of mcguffins, the reason the bomb would be activated became the catalyst for words, words, words.

Quite how Ianto was resurrected with such realism, apparently in comparison to the other “ghosts” wasn’t completely clear, though to have treated Gareth’s voice throughout would have tipped us off to his resurrection however temporary. Similarly, I wasn't sure on why he'd need to be tempted by his father if they were both from the spirit world since you'd assume the devil woman would be controlling him too. But I'm willing to forgive because of the power of that revelation for those of us to tend to live these things as much as listen to them was so strong. Chronologies will have to be rewritten.

The House of the Dead also mops up some left-over questions from Children of Earth. RTD’s interviews in the wake of Amy's cracks suggested that they were what sorted out the rift, but now we know it was ghost Ianto and his rocky bomb box. We wondered why Jack’s farewell to Gwen on the hillside was set six months after he’d saved the planet; perhaps we can assume now it was because having met Ianto one final time and repaired the rift he felt he’d tied up all the loose ends or seeing Ianto go again was the last straw. Which makes The House of the Dead not just a spin-off audio but an essential part of the Torchwood story.

"It’s a period film of a period we just don’t know about."

Film Here's a transcript of a really impressive presentation from the producers of the new John Carter film in which they explore such things as adaptation and casting and directing.
"I said, “That’s what I want. I want to feel like I’m really there. I want to feel like it’s really happening.” This is not what somebody wished for; this is what really happened. This is the source of the book. Then I realized that’s what it is: It’s a period film of a period we just don’t know about. It’s as if somebody has done their Martian research really, really well and called in all the authorities. I thought that’s the way to approach this. I don’t want it to seem like this is images of creatures that people have been drawing on their notebooks their whole life and just want to selfishly see realized on the screen; I want you to go, “No, sorry, this is actually how people dressed in Aztec times” or “This is how people bargained in Japanese feudal times.” Can we capture that faux authenticity?"
It's worth reading not just for the content, but as a point of comparison with directors who take a well loved property and don't seem to have this level of comprehension as to how to achieve it sensitively.

"Measure for Measure is full of substitutions"

Journalism Hadley Freeman suggests Murdoch could learn something from Shakespeare and especially from my favourite play:
"people pretending to be others, while an occasionally comic device, is generally a sign of tumult and trouble if not downright corruption, which again might have alerted someone at News International to the risks (other than legal) of blagging folks' medical and financial details. Measure for Measure is full of substitutions (bed tricks, head swaps), all of which are indicative of the rotten heart of the play's setting, Vienna. In this play, Shakespeare warns against the folly of leaving others seemingly in charge of one's empire when one is secretly still in control (through the characters of the Duke of Vienna and Angelo), particularly if those false substitutes are fond of affecting outrage about the moral failings of others when they themselves are the most corrupt of all."
From such tiny acorns, whole RSC productions have been formed. Coulson's presumably the Lucio in this scenario.

"... I hope you're going to apologise now ..."

Journalism You might remember this run-in between Chris Bryant MP and Kay Burley last October. Bryant suggested that the phone hacking and illegality within the newspaper industry was more widespread than previously heard and Burley lost her temper as though he'd said something totally outrageous:

Today, Bryant asked for an apology ...

... thank goodness for the BBC.

brought to mind the old time radio adaptations

[Note: Don't read the following if you haven't heard the episodewhich is available to download from AudioGo. For that matter, don't read the BBC's own programme synopsis which is equally spoilery again and gives away almost the entire plot in that maddening way that indie cinema trailers increasingly are. Right, let the sycophancy commence.]

Radio Embracing the spirit of Jules Verne and James Cameron, Ryan Scott’s Submission shows us that radio Torchwood can be both personal and epic and more importantly unlike yesterday’s episode, offers a story that could not necessarily be filmed on an average television budget. One of the few strengths of the original television format was that it attempted to mimic the variety of Doctor Who into a more fixed setting, but isn’t it better, with just three episodes to play about with to have the team chasing aliens across the Forth Bridge than sitting around in The Hub watching for power fluctuations?

While parasitic aliens are dime a dozen in the Whoniverse, Scott’s script emphasised to great effect the journey through the Mariana Trench to meet this spooky and its modus operandi was never obvious. The descent of the submarine into the deep, the spirit of exploration, brought to mind the old time radio adaptations of classic adventure novels, of Welles, of Verne, in which our minds are called upon to picture the unimaginable. Hanging on every word of the writers and actors as they attempt to put that environment into words then cleverly through minimal description leaving the listener to envisage exactly what this huge alien beast communicating to the world might look like. Lovecraftian?

Some of the dialogue was admittedly exposition heavy, but it was quite naturally layered, from the characters rather than as a way of novelistically giving the audience a description of the surroundings. This made the most of its media rather than sounding as though the writer was having to cope with trying to fit his story into the non-visual medium. The business with the frozen hands of the "meat popsicle" is a perfect example; aided by Eve’s excellent timing, each crack of the bloody ice ran right through us and the ran through us again with the expectation that Cudlow wouldn’t have another one for long. Probably one the intentionally funniest moments the show’s produced.

The biggest surprise was the (gay) abandon with which it tossed around continuity references. I’ve always slightly regretted that Daleks didn’t get mention in Children of Earth (even if Journey’s End was at least alluded to in those opening scenes) but the reason they were cut was because RTD didn’t feel like it was the right slot. [squee] Yet here’s Erin Bennett's sparky Carlie Roberts from evil Torchwood One, a girl Ianto seems have left for Lisa, that’s Torchwood One “before the cybermen destroyed it”, they’re battling UNIT for priority on this adventure and Jack mentioned The Doctor several dozen times to get the advanced tech. [/squee]

Injected into that was also an excellent story for the coffee boy. The return of an old flame is one of the standard franchise storylines and the grace notes that Ianto won’t ever really be “together” with Jack and that Harkness will outlive him were already explored in his now gut-wrenching bedside speech in Phil Ford’s The Dead Line a few years ago. But this gained extra-poignancy because we know the outcome, Ianto isn’t long for the world and it’s impossible not to read the sense of loss in Gareth David-Lloyd’s performance. When he says “That’s Torchwood isn’t it, it kills you in the end” once again we’re dragged back in front of that tank watching him go.

the time when Ianto still provided the coffee

[Note: Don't read the following if you haven't heard the episode which is available to download from AudioGo. For that matter, don't read the BBC's own programme synopsis which is equally spoilery and gives away almost the entire plot right up to five minutes before the end in that maddening way that Hollywood trailers always do. Right, let the unwarranted sarcasm commence.]

Radio More radio Torchwood. With another three episodes in the old format, Radio 4’s coming even closer to providing us with a whole extra season of Hub-based hijinks set in the gap between seasons two and three. With Earth-1218 events in recent days confirming once again that human beings really are as morally ambiguous if not as downright evil as some of them are portrayed in Children of Earth, it’s strangely comforting to return to the time when Ianto still provided the coffee, Rhys bravely goofed into danger behind an inquisitive Gwen and Captain Jack made otherwise innocent observations like “I love secret doors, they make me all Famous Five” sound absolutely filthy.

This first new adventure, Rupert Laight’s The Devil and Miss Carew deals with the incongruity of grafting an otherwise post-watershed series onto a channel that’s the polar opposite of its original televisual home (THREE!) by melding two Radio 4 institutions and tasking the Shipping Forecast with murdering a resident who lives in the kind of careless care home You & Yours would be interviewing AgeUK about, on a daily basis, until it closed. It is probably a perverse decision to frighten the shit out of the channel’s main (stereotypical) demographic in this way, but the teaser was the undoubted highlight of the episode, poor old Uncle Bryn’s life sucked out of him by the one thing which had given him any comfort since his time in the merchant navy.

Beyond that, this is fairly pedestrian stuff despite Martin Jarvis’s performance as Fitzroy, a brilliantly Ainley-like mix of the scary and the screamingly camp. The pacing, too slow for my taste, suggested the Hub had been transported to Ambridge and as I had the aggressor Fitzroy’s aims outlined to me twice it was impossible not to think (twice) of Who’s own The Idiot’s Lantern in which an alien also employed some antique technology in their scheme (or in that case state of the art given it was 1953). The Devil and Miss Carew was in the old Torchwood mode of intercutting between lines of enquiry discovering exactly the same information and repeating it. I’m sorry, I think I’ve said that already.  Um.

To be fair, from a fictional perspective it’s entirely possible to applaud Fitzroy’s plan to destroy advanced technology, especially if your cinema trip has been plagued by mobile phones.  But unfortunately as his global zeta pinch would also have ruined the cinema industry too it’s a good job he was stopped even if it took what amounted to simple (albeit tragic) clumsiness on the part of his hench pensioner Miss Carew in order to achieve it. As with all of Doctor Who, this had the stench of death running through it although it wasn’t explained what happened to the few other re-energised souls the “Old Lady” was referring to: Esme, Mrs Heller and the nice Indian man who’s name she couldn’t remember. At least I don’t remember if it did. I must be getting old.

Laight does have a good ear of Chibnallian dialogue, with Gwen’s exclamation that Miss Carew was “gonna do something to change the world and I can’t have that on my conscience” as though she’d just noticed Rhys had toilet paper stuck to the bottom of his shoe at their wedding. It’s also good to hear her husband also talks to himself when using a computer; I too can’t help describing everything I do with my browser especially if it's signposting that I’m about to save someone’s life. All of this was acted with the usual standards by the regulars with Gareth David-Lloyd stepping particularly well back into a character that he’d probably thought lost. Did you know that there are volunteers who keep the shrine in Cardiff fresh? Bless them.

"American voiceover artist"

Blog! When Lis Met Karen:
This is Karen Krisanovich.

Karen, as you can see from her website which I have linked above, is a writer; radio and TV broadcaster; American voiceover artist and presenter based in London. You know when I went down to London the other week? She was sitting opposite me on the train. Excellent chat. We kept each other giggling well into the wee hours as we headed south.

Only, here’s the thing: we didn’t say a word to each other until we departed at Euston.
Good old fashioned piece of blogging from Lis this of the kind I used to undulge in before I became self-conscious and weird.

On the Krizanovich front, Karen's uploaded to her YouTube channel this brief clip from Channel 4 Daily in which she's wearing an amazing top which is brighter than Sol.

"narrative history series"

Radio Four controller Gwyneth Williams brings news of schedule changes. The World at One is being extended by fifteen minutes with the "narrative history series" (The Making of Music, A History of the World ...) moving to fill up the hour and a regular science slot on Tuesday mornings.  This American Life's poor cousin Americana axed.  The methodology seems to be to bring the channel more in line with other BBC networks in offering recognisable blocks of content, certain types of programme appearing in regular places.

prepare to enter a trance-like state of self-loathing

Books Caitin Moran’s position in the history of the press reaction to new Doctor Who can’t be underestimated. That this successful tv columnist with years at The Times and before that Melody Maker had outed herself as a fan and was writing passionately about the franchise’s inherent cool, went some way to helping to transform the reputation of the programme and giving it an acceptable face for those who might otherwise have sneered at even the concept of watching a sci-fi drama series on a Saturday night.

That’s largely how I heard about Moran and why I decided to follow her on Twitter, and not having seen her most recent columns since the paywall, why I probably ended up reading How To Be A Woman. That and the dozens of positive reviews. Part memoir, part feminist tract, its rather like reading Elizabeth Wurtzel’s Prozac Nation with sections of Bitch edited in at relevant points and although it has some of the same esteem issues, it’s determinately far funnier than either.

Beginning with the bullying meted out to Moran as a pre-pubescent tomboy, we’re guided through her bodily changes and onanistic experiments and her experiences with men folk and babies, scaling Maslow's hierarchy like a sherpa on a completion bonus. She aims to demonstrate how difficult the status of womanhood has become increasingly harder as women have themselves begun to accept as the norm the very narrow set of images created by marketers and the rest of the media.

With only Wurtzel's books, Laura Mulvey, Annette Kuhn and various Guardian columnists as my previous experience of such things, I can't say whether Moran successfully rewrites Germain Greer's The Female Eunoch as the advertising suggest.  It's certainly increased my admiration for women, simply because of the psychological baggage they seem to have to carry around with them because of assumption we men have and continue to make about them, describing them as them as though they're an entirely alien species.

Moran really knows how to service an anecdote. The chapter on weddings is a tour-de-force of colourful detail from the shades of dresses to the wine stains in the carpet. She lays the most disappointing elements of her personality bare, disappointing to her, and at times she comes across as a marauding Withnail with two X chromosomes, various tolerant Marwoods making sure she reaches home in one piece, dealing incessantly with inadequate men.

If you are a man with even a hint of feminism running through your veins, prepare to enter a trance like state of self-loathing for your entire gender. We do not come off well here, for the way we treat women by confirming gender stereotypes, double or triple glazing the glass ceiling and for years assuming that because there don’t appear to be many women around with a voice it's because they don’t have much to say, rather than the truth which is that we’ve gagged them, unconsciously other otherwise.

Yet there are plenty of moments in which it’s apparent that we share plenty of foibles. If I’m anything to go by, men too construct epic impossible fantasies about relationships with casual acquaintances that aren’t just about sex. We too walk around shops for hours on end failing to find clothes we might actually enjoy wearing (which is why my whole existence revolves around a white t-shirt and jeans). We also often feel that society has boxed us into a corner.