Glimmers of Life

Archive for May 2010

Oh, fine I’ll come clean right from the start…. I REALLY LIKED this movie.

While I have been a fair-weather fan of the (male) star, I went with my friend who’s been a fan of Jake Gyllenhaal’s “work” for many years. I have to say that she now has competition. Yes – he looked buff in this film and not unattractive, but what I liked was what he brought to the role (aside from the fab abs!). The film itself is typical Hollywood fare, a bit of drama, a bit of romance, and plenty of action and stunts to hold it all together – think Indiana Jones meets The Mummy. Gyllenhaal brings the muscle and macho, while Gemma Arterton brings the beauty and the feisty but it’s the relationship between the two that elevates this movie above the ok benchmark.

Arterton is playing a spirited damsel in distress which we’ve seen before, but unlike in Clash of the Titans where she was forgettable, in this she was accessible.  And by all accounts Gyllenhaal is quite a sensitive soul and intelligent too – and this comes out despite the fact that he’s playing a stereotypical hero.  There’s something in his smile, something in his eyes that makes you think “I like this guy, and I actually care if he succeeds” even though you know he will.

Oh and aside from the critcally acclaimed Ben Kingsley there’s also some other British acting talent that you may recognise if you’ve enjoyed in RocknRolla and/or TV series Coupling.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying it’s a great movie, I’m not even saying it’s an excellent example of its genre. But it is a downright enjoyable film that I would happily go and see again (this Wednesday with a different friend) – always a pleasure never a chore…


I decided to venture to the Trafford Centre on Thursday afternoon, as my daughter snoozed after a hectic morning of activity I thought I would brave the frosty make up counters and then pop to Mango.

The first part, disappointingly, went as expected. I tentatively approached the MAC counter in search of foundation. Within seconds I was approached by a bum-bagged, brush wielding woman who offered me help like she was trying to persuade a doddery drunken tramp to move on. To her credit she did know her stuff and found me a foundation that matched my colour – but her efficiency (and tone) made me feel stupid so I made my excuses and left.

As I wandered aimlessly through the crowd I remembered the main reason I had been at the Trafford Centre – a trip to Mango.

Mango is a clothing store that I have seen but never ventured into. It seemed to me to be a place where proper women with fashion sense, money and an eye for quality shopped – this has never been me, so I never went in… Zara has that same mystique. Today, however they were on my level as they were offering a free manicure with any purchase over £30. And if you showed them your Glamour Magazine you got a 20% discount and free bag.

I did one circuit of the shop, to check out if there was anything for me. To be honest it all seemed very on trend and I’ve not quite worked out what really suits me yet. But with freeness on the horizon I did another circuit of the store and picked up anything that I didn’t detest. Struggling round the store with an armful of clothes and a buggy I was approached by an assistant who could see my plight and offered to take the items through to the changing room for me.

With another armful of clothes collected I hit the changing rooms and tried on everything. But it seems Mango is one of those shops where size 16 is a double XL and quite rare. I’d picked up clothes in a random selection of sizes from 12 through to 16 – a required part of the process especially seeing as I’d never shopped there before I had to get the lay of the land. Their sizing policy meant that I flew though most of the clothes – barely getting a leg into a pair of jeans, or finding that a shirt didn’t button up, considerably cut down the checking yourself out in the mirror time, and I was quickly left with 3 tops.

Now doing the calculations in my head I could quite easily have just gone somewhere else, bought a bag and got my nails done for £30 but I really wanted to buy something. Maybe is was the freeness, maybe it was the fact that the last time I bought proper “new” clothing that wasn’t on sale or anything was over 12 months ago, but I didn’t want to leave that shop without something.  I guess this is how the marketing works!

Anyway I ended up buying a top/dress thing, but can I just say, buying that top lifted my spirit so much, people might have thought I was a little bit drunk. The woman who served me was really nice as we chatted through the transaction. She didn’t get annoyed with me when I remembered at the last minute that the Glamour Magazine that I’d had stashed in my bag for the past two weeks held the key to a 20% discount.  She handed me my purchase and my free bag and ushered me over the nail area. The girl doing my nails was bubbly and as she did my nails a quite literally shocking pink she talked about babies and going out and reminded me what it was like to be young! I was then ushered over to a make up area where a professional make up artist (who had worked on TV stuff!!!) did a quick make over (BONUS) … using foundation that matched my skin!!! Her table was adorned with a little bottles, and compacts filled with Pixie make up. It’s not a brand I’ve ever seen before but she basically asked me what I fancied (I opted for the ubiquitous smokey eye but in purple) and off she went.

I walked out of Mango feeling great. But it’s raised my expectations now – every shopping trip should be like that!

And when I got home my hubby said the top looked good too…

Saturday was a dark day for me. Despite the sun offering its rays all day (even though it was a Bank Holiday weekend!), I ended the day under a cloud. The reason, I just couldn’t find any foundation in Boots.

Now my “make up personality” can be summed up as light-hearted and fairweather – although the use of “fairweather” in the context of black make up seems slightly misleading. Basically I go through phases, sometimes I wear it everyday, other times I don’t which means my collection of make up is…erm… quirky. The range is made up of free samples and impulse buys from the past five years. But the one thing I do spend time on when it come to make up is foundation.

My first and last perfect foundation was discovered on a trip to New York. I went with a friend of mine who’s been friends with make up since she was about 13 and now has a good stable relationship with it. In contrast I was definitely a late starter, don’t remember ever playing with mummy’s make up as a child and even in those experimental teenage years I only got as far as nail polish. My 20s I did try but always ended up not quite looking myself…. fortunately I usually only work it at night to go to clubs so there aren’t any pictures of how bad it probably was.

So on this trip my friend thrust me in front of a Sephora assistant and asked him to help me. Having heard that foundation for black skin was notoriously difficult to find I wasn’t expecting much. The guy came back with two bottles – the first wasn’t right, the second was perfect. I was amazed and told the guy so until he thought I was mad. Three years later I went back to buy more and it had been discontinued.

Since then I have been struggling to find the right one. I tried Maybelline, and was so convinced I’d got it right that I took up the “buy two get a discount” offer… one is still sitting unopened amidst my quirky collection alongside another half a bottle. I tried Prescriptives, the lady on the counter was lovely and I think the colour was right but not the consistency as it seems to disappear very quickly. I also went to the Body Shop where the assistant used all her powers to try to convince me it was the right colour when I could see it was at least two shades out.

I’ve heard that Mac and Bobbi Brown are good for darker complexions but as I walk past the counters in the department stores the assistants suddenly seem to get busy and turn away, or worse give me the once over and then the “stay away” stare. Maybe it’s because they can seem me thinking I want some nice make up but I don’t want to pay loads for it. It’s like one of those duels in olden days but executed through subtle looks and eye movements.

So now that Black women are everywhere I thought I could be catered for in an everyday store in an everyday way. WRONG! I went to the Revlon stand (as they had an offer on… can you see a trend here?), nothing. I went to a few others.. nothing. I even went to the lady at the No. 7 counter, who could only offer me what I think amounted to invisible foundation. It looked like the right colour when it came out of the bottle but when she put it on my face I looked exactly the same – uneven skin tone still clearly visible.

I am no make up expert but I really did start to believe the hype… that black women were now being included in these mainstream make up ranges, then I look at the shelves and see that “Dark Almond” is the most colourful a range gets, or that there are 10 variations on beige and one actual brown colour stuck on the end, and the reality starts to reveal itself. Looks like I may need to brave those department store counters after all… although I may check out how well this cloud evens out my skin….

You may be as new to this blog as I am so you may not have realised I’m a mum too. Recently I went for a job interview, two in fact as I managed to get through to the “final round” and as it happened I didn’t get selected – but all the way through the process it just made me wonder if going back to work full time is the right thing.

Now this topic is really not new, there are all sorts of forums and advice pieces about it. Ultimately I think the consensus is:

If you want to work full time, do it. A happy mum is a happy baby.

If you need to work full time, then do it and don’t feel guilty about it as you’re working towards a stable home.

If you don’t want to work – that’s fine too, and you needn’t feel guilty about that either – different strokes for different folks.

The thing I wrestle with though is that I don’t have any strong desire to work full time, we’re just about managing with me doing part time so there’s no immediate need either, and I don’t think I could be a stay at home mum, but I know that the current situation is just not working for me.

I mean the days I’m at home, I think I’m short changing my kid, is she really enjoying being pushed around town all day while I post things and pay bills? And on the days I’m at work I just feel a bit stuck – like I’m only doing enough to keep afloat rather than get going.

Honestly I’m not complaining about working part time, from what I’ve read elsewhere online other people would love just to have the option… I just need to find a way to make it fulfilling. Or maybe I should just go to work full time….

Hmmm….the one thing they don’t really tell you about when you become a mum is the continuous cocktail of guilt and worry you end up sipping everyday.