Archive for October, 2013|Monthly archive page

Pink Ladies

In Celebrities, Pink, Trends on October 31, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Ciara 3

Rule: if you’re going to do a trend, really do it

Got all your new pretty-in-pink clothes yet, then? That’s what we’re all supposed to be wearing this season, although I confess I haven’t run out to snap any up yet.

The idea just seems a little gimmicky to me and will date so very quickly and expensively – especially if you invested in dusty pink tailoring, which all the fashion mags are urging us to do. I’m just not sure yet.

Not that I don’t adore the colour. I think pink in all its shades is very uplifting. I have quite a bit of feature shocking pink around my home and have fond memories of a pale pink shift dress and jacket arrangement I had years ago, which always felt cheery and chic at the same time.

It’s also a colour loaded with post-modern ironic feminine power messages, so I’m all for thinking pinking as a general plan, but at the same time there’s a warning voice in my ear whispering a name… and that name is: Miss Piggy.

I fear that dressed in pink head to toe I could resemble Mademoiselle Cochon emerging naked from a hot tub. Particularly if I chose to invest in the particular sweater shown above on singer Ciara.


It’s by a Belgian designer called Doriane Van Overeem (this season, of course…) and while I know it would look like plumpy plush piggy flesh on me – it does look really amazing on the artiste frequently referred to as Cici (as opposed to the rather better known Riri).

In fact I adore her entire porcine pink ensemble and it was the first picture of someone sporting this trend which has made me think, hmmmm, maybe…

What made me sit up and take interest is the bold way Ms Ciara has embraced the pink. Rather than making a weak token gesture towards it (as I have pathetically considered doing) with just a pink scarf, or other small (i.e. ‘cheap’) accessory, she’s embraced it with fearless enthusiasm. And a large measure of camp.

Pink is the campest of colours, particularly in this sugar shade, and she’s pushed that way further with the deliberate Pink Ladies mood in the pencil skirt and fluffy sweater combo, accentuating the 50s feel even more with her kitsch white Miu Miu extreme cats eyes sunnies and fabulous beauty queen white stilettos (exactly the style of shoe I’ve been going on about for weeks…).


But her master stroke is the shiny vinyl pink skirt from TopShop. The shape is classic 1950s (Rizzo herself would love it…), but the fabrication is totally 21st century. I had a similar skirt in the 1980s, but it was black which now seems so boringly obvious, although it was quite daring at the time. It’s the combination of slightly sick pink and vinyl that makes this one – and with it, the whole look – totally new and now.

I really want that skirt.


The only problem is what I’d wear it with, because I’m still not sure I could go head to toe bacon – and what other colour to put with it? I absolutely loathe this pink with black, unless it’s part of a humorously kitsch retro bath product range.

So I’m forced to conclude that that this pink is a kind of prime number of colours, because it doesn’t go with any of the classic neutrals (grey would be way too 80s…)

Really, the only other colour you can wear this pink with is white and as I know that would make me feel like a rasher of best streaky, I’m not going there – even though I’m very glad Ciara did. And she looks amazing.

But I want this skirt in navy blue.

PS I originally wrote this for my Age/Sun Herald/Fairfax Media column ‘The Rules’ but we couldn’t use it there because of issues with the photo – so I’ve used a screen shot from the website Red Carpet Fashion Awards, which you can look at properly here:

And you can find The Rules, every Sunday here



MadAbout My Book

In Book on October 16, 2013 at 10:23 am


What’s in a name? Everything when it’s the title of one of your favourites of your own books – and a mega-selling author brings one out using the same title.

I’m referring to my 2002 book Mad About the Boy – and Helen Fielding’s new sequel to Bridget Jones’ Diary, which she’s called the same thing.


It’s made me feel rather cross and churned up, as you can imagine, and I can’t decided whether I’m bitchily pleased Ms Fielding’s book has fewer stars than mine on Amazon – or is that a bad thing because people might confuse the poor reviews with my book?

And where will it leave the film project of my book, which someone has bought the rights for?


So I’ve decided the only way to deal with this odd situation is to stick to my general philosophy of life which is to accentuate the positive – as per the marvellous Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters song, which I first heard in The Singing Detective.

It’s used ironically in that extraordinary series by Dennis Potter (one of the best things ever shown on television, in my opinion), but I do vehemently believe in its basic sentiments.

If you go around life nursing all your little hurts and resentments, stroking and nurturing them like little baby hamsters, it just eats up all the energy you could be using to get on with exciting new things.


This is why I try never to bear grudges and always to be nice to people, even if they’ve been less than lovely to me. I have a quote from Dr Johnson at the top of my To Do list to remind me about this: ‘Kindness is in our power even when fondness is not…’

I also reflect on an old Serbian proverb my husband told me: ‘If people throw rocks at you, throw bread back.’


I don’t do this in a soppy, meek, victim way, but entirely out of self-interest, as I’m certain it bring me a happier and fulfilled life. So instead of feeling bitter about Helen Fielding’s book, I remind myself of all the lovely things its publication has prompted people to say to me on Twitter.

Here are some of them:

@TobyFlaneur ‘Mad About the Boy even more enjoyable the 3rd time around. I must get tickets to Sydney. Loved the Uncle!’

@sandraom ‘Will undoubtedly read latest #bridgetjones by Helen Fielding but seems silly she didn’t realise ‘Mad about the boy’ is a novel by @MaggieA’

@jcmumma ‘such a great book, all the characters are fantastic! Uncle Perky is my fave!’

@khamaeilon ‘To @GuardianBooks Nope. There is only one Mad About The Boy and that’s by @MaggieA One of my all time favourite books and opening paragraphs.’

So a massive thanks to all those tweeters – particularly Helen Ducal for the last one. And here is that opening paragraph:

‘I’ve got nothing against gay men – some of my best friends are homosexuals. I just didn’t expect my husband to be one too.’

untitled 2

If you haven’t read my Mad About the Boy and would like to meet Uncle Percy – my favourite of all my characters, I’ve ever invented – here’s where to find it.

This is the Penguin Australia site, with a longer extract from the beginning of the book.

In the UK it’s available here, as an e-book.,,9780141906676,00.html

Also available, from Amazon.

man overboord

As you will see from those links, the book has many different covers in it’s many different editions – it was a best seller in the UK and Australia and was translated into loads of different languages.


And if you enjoyed that clip from ‘The Singing Detective’, here’s another of my favourite scenes. To give it some context, it was an autobiographical piece, inspired by Potter’s experiences of suffering from a very acute form of psoriasis, all mashed up with his obsession with the work of Raymond Chandler (Phillip Marlowe, private eye, The Big Sleep etc…) and the music of his 1940s childhood.

The right one

In Ad campaigns on October 14, 2013 at 10:51 pm

I have a little cocktail habit. Not every, but most evenings some time around 6.30pm I’ll have an Americano.

Not the nasty brewed coffee, but a measure of Campari, a measure of Martini Rosso, soda, ice and a slice of orange, mixed up in a hand-blown striped glass tumbler I bought in Venice.

This simple pleasure is one of the great joys of my life. It’s only a very mild buzz, much less than I would get from a glass of wine, but that’s not really the point.

Well, it’s slightly the point, but I could get that from a bog standard G & T, what the Americano, with its double vermouth hit gives me, is a sense of glamour – a very specific sense of glamour which I realise has shaped my whole life.

These ads were on the TV in a very formative stage – the late 1960s and early 1970s – and were hugely influential in developing my idea of a life to aspire to.

A group of beautiful sophisticated people, in cool, relaxed clothing, doing cool, interesting things, like scuba diving, riding horses along a beach, at a Formula One track, racing speed boats back to a yacht moored in a heavenly cove, to the sound track of that cool jingle.

They were all shot from above, with really good editing to long shots and close ups of the beautiful people. They always end with the key couple gazing into each other’s eyes in what I now understand is a state of sex-crazed euphoria. The young me just saw it as the acme of romantic glamour.

And when I went and found those commercials on YouTube just now (couldn’t you just die, how marvellous YouTube is?), they made me feel exactly as they did in 1973. Excitement mixed with yearning.

In fact they gave me exactly the same feeling I hope people will have when they reach the big kiss moment in one of my books… That’s exactly how I picture my unashamedly glamorous characters. And with the ads success they moved the formula on, until some of them became like short films.

So I now understand that not only did these Martini ads shape my ambitions for my own life – and I have scuba dived, power boated, been in a Formula One pit lane, stayed in a ski chalet, and taken a sea plane, so I’ve ticked off quite a few Martini lifestyle experiences – they also contributed enormously to my writing.

No wonder vermouth is my favourite drink. It is the right one.

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