Month: April 2014

Today’s Amazing Woman – Ella Fitzgerald

I’m going to be trying this new thing where I’ll release a blog about a woman I idolise/admire on their birthday (or what would have been their birthday if they were still alive). Hopefully this will introduce people who may not know much about these women or their work and might even turn them into fans. So here goes the first one…

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If you’ve never listened to Ella Fitzgerald, firstly, what is wrong with you? Secondly, stop reading this and go listen to a couple of her songs. Seriously. Then come back.

 With unique, pitch-perfect vocals and an incredible ability to scat, she became a musical icon with a recording career spanning 59 years and over 70 albums, putting her own stamp on the Great American Songbook and performed with some of the greatest names in musical history – Sinatra, Armstrong, Gillespie, Ellington.  

 Born in Virginia on April 25th 1917, she was moved to Yonkers, New York at an early age and grew up with her mother, step-father and half-sister. Growing up, she was a popular child, self-described as a tomboy who aside from loving baseball, also loved dancing and singing. After her mother died when she was fifteen, Ella went to live with her aunt to escape her abusive step-father but her schooling suffered and she eventually started skipping it altogether. After running away from her Aunt’s, she took on various jobs to make some money including working as a lookout in a bordello. But she was soon picked up by the authorities and sent to a reform school, where she was regularly beaten. Eventually managing to run away, becoming a homeless teenager.

 But things started to turn around in 1934 when she won the chance to perform at an amateur night at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem but her dreams of being a dancer ended there. She was due to go on after a dance act called the Edwards Sisters who drove the crowd wild. When she was called up, she knew she wouldn’t be able to follow their dance act because they had been too good. Instead she started to sing. The song Judy won the crowd over and this was the night doors were opened for Ella.

 She joined Chick Webb’s band as a singer in 1935 and found a new career along with a father figure who would look out for her. She went on the road with the band and would now spend the next five decades of her life “on the road”. But it was her 1938 recording of “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” that brought her the attention she deserved. In 1942, she left the band (influenced by the death of Chick Webb) and embarked on a solo career.

 Despite her success, this was still the age of discrimination. While travelling, the bands regularly encountered commonplace racism, especially in the South where everything was still segregated. Norman Granz became a great asset in Ella’s life when he became her personal manager, aside from turning her into the superstar she became. Granz was a jazz producer who was well known for his anti-racist stance. He would pay black musicians the same amount as white musicians and would refuse to let a band play at a venue if there was a slightest hint of racism. But even in 1955, when she was a huge star, Ella was still being judged on her colour instead of her talent. It took a call from Marilyn Monroe to the owner of the Mocambo nightclub in West Hollywood for them to book Ella. Marilyn promised that if Ella performed, she would take a front row table every night there was a performance, which would obviously amount to incredible publicity for the club. So Ella was booked and became the first black performer at the club and would go on to sell-out a three week run. She went on to become a musical legend.

 But even though she was a superstar, her life never really became the fairy-tale she deserved. She had two failed marriages. The first was annulled when she realised she made a mistake after she found out Benny Kornegay was a criminal and drug dealer. Her second marriage to bassist Ray Brown, who she met while touring with the Dizzy Gillespie Band, ended in divorce after six years but was a mutual discussion when the couple realised they were spending too much time apart due to their careers. Despite her persona on stage, off stage she was plagued by shyness throughout her life and was very self-conscious of her appearance.  

 In her later life she suffered many bouts of illness, experiencing heart failure and exhaustion, as well as developing diabetes. In 1993, she had both legs amputated below the knee due to the diabetes and by the end of her life, was almost blind. She passed away on June 15th 1993.

 The fact her music is still so popular today is a true testament to her immense talent.

 On what would have been her 97th birthday, download a few of her songs (of which there are many), put your earphones in and relax in the presence of a true musical icon and generally inspirational woman.

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The Dating Game – First Update

Less than twelve hours after setting up my profile, I received an email from Match saying that I was getting a lot of views and that they were going to stop emailing me every time someone viewed my profile because otherwise I’d just end up with a lot of emails. Obviously, this was a huge ego boost for me.

But I still don’t get what is going on with everything.

I’ve been contacted by a few guys, but most of them aren’t local to me which I think defeats the whole object of dating. Then there was a message from one man who said “I hope your having a nice day.” Really? Really?? Aside from the fact it’s hardly going to set any woman’s pulse racing, if you can’t use your and you’re correctly, then I’m immediately crossing you off the list. Does that make me too picky?

Then there’s the other messages. None of which I have responded to because I’m not sure if I should or not. I have no idea what the etiquette is in this situation. I have no interest in any of the men so far but do I send them a message back to tell them this or do I just ignore it and not respond? I’ve been doing the latter, but have no clue if that’s what you’re supposed to do or not?

So, to sum up – it’s only been a couple of days but so far I still don’t get the whole thing with it. Maybe things will change when I get to grips with it a bit more. But, it’s definitely a massive confidence booster and probably worth the twenty quid for that alone.

Will be sure to update if there’s some kind of new development.

Megan
xoxo

The Dating Game

This evening I had a lovely time, going out with a couple of friends for a cocktail then watching the new Spiderman film because even though it was a Sunday, there was no work the next day (woo Bank Holiday!) so we thought we would go a little crazy in that respect. Oh, and then I decided to set up a dating profile.

What? Megan, the hopeless romantic who doesn’t get along with technology has started internet dating? Hard to believe, I know. Maybe I have started to embrace technology, what with publishing a novel as an eBook and starting a blog. The fact I have been too busy with other aspects of my life and haven’t had a date in a few months, it kind of makes sense, even if the main reason for setting it up was insomnia.

I’ve found the dating pool rather shallow recently and for that I blame Sex and the City. In my latter teenage years I grew up on a diet that show having purchased the box set of all six series and it taught me some very important lessons, but completely distorted my view of dating. I know I live in Ipswich, not NYC, but the show made it look like you could pick up a date with an attractive man like that *snaps fingers*. The reality is slightly different.

Apparently one of the main places to meet men is at work. Well, my work seems to be getting rid of people and not hiring replacements. Plus they seem to be against the idea of hiring young, single men. So that’s a no go. Everything else I do with my hours outside of work seems to be female dominated. And I can’t even time a trip to the gym when there’s an attractive man who doesn’t feel the need to announce what size of weight he is currently lifting to the room.

So I’ve taken a new approach.

I’ve only signed up for a month’s subscription (I’m working on the assumption that there’s less weirdoes on the sites you have to pay for than the freebie ones) and at the end of the day I’ll probably end up twenty quid lighter but it may prove to be an ego booster if nothing else. And I might even be able to get some decent posts out of it, so it won’t be a complete waste.

Wish me luck! I’ll keep you posted.

Megan

xoxo

Faking It

As Meg Ryan proved in That Scene, it’s reasonably easy for women to convincingly fake it. We’ve probably all done it at one time or another, but should we really fake an orgasm just to spare someone’s feelings?

We all know that men are a proud species and no man wants to doubt his own prowess in bed, but by faking an orgasm just so his pride isn’t dented is going to end up having a negative effect on both parties involved.

Firstly, if you fake it for him to give him a little ego boost then he’s going to interpret that as you love whatever it is he is doing and will keep doing it. The next time, you’re probably going to have to fake your orgasm again because it will be so much easier than trying to explain why it supposedly got you off before but isn’t now. It will all just become one vicious cycle and it’s going to diminish your own enjoyment.

I was once in bed with a guy who decided to try something new out and it really wasn’t working for me but he was just trying so hard that I thought he at least deserved some kind of reaction for his efforts. Unfortunately, this scenario played out a few more times because when he did it again, thinking it was an effective technique, I didn’t have the heart to point out that I had lied the first time. It would have ended up embarrassing us both. So I would then lie back, think of England and give a Meg Ryan-worthy performance.

I’m pretty sure that men would rather we be honest with them than to find out that we felt so sorry that their efforts weren’t paying off, we decided to fake an orgasm just to make them feel better. That would probably dent their pride more than not being able to make said woman come in the first place.

The second person this is going to have a negative effect on is the man himself. If something should happen and your relationship ends, he’ll probably end up sleeping with someone else and if the same problem occurs, this woman might decide to tell him what he’s doing isn’t working. If he starts to think about it, he’ll wonder if he’s been lied to before and maybe start to question his entire sexual history, wondering what was real and what wasn’t.

If you’re in a proper and grown-up relationship, you should be able to talk about things like this. If it’s not working, sit down and discuss it. It will be less awkward doing it in the beginning than it will be miles down the road. Men need to understand that we’re pretty complex beings and although we might not have reached the Holy Grail at the end of sex, we can still enjoy the journey and maybe something just needs a little tweak. And there’s no reason at all why you can’t have fun with the practice. Practice does make perfect after all.

42 Things All Noughties Teenagers Will Remember

Ah, those were the days…

Hannah Gale

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1. Smirnoff Ice, WKD and Archers. Tiny bottles of sugary alcohol that made you talk to boys, throw up and get told off by your parents. Goody.

2. Spending an entire week waiting for the next episode of The O.C. Fancying Seth Cohen, wanting to be Summer Roberts, and feeling awkwardly not sad when Marisa died. Oh.

3. Stripy highlights. Big blonde chunky strips through your over-straightened hair that made you look like the fourth member of Atomic Kitten, the somewhat cooler version of Kerry Katona.

4. Denim everything. Denim jackets, the perfect denim mini skirt, denim pedal pushers, denim handbags. Firmly believing Bewitched were on to something.

5. Teaming said denim mini skirt with (faux) UGG boots, dolly shoes or bright pink Converse and feeling like you’d finally nailed looking cool on non-school uniform day. Well done you, high five. All the boys will fancy you now.

6…

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Too Many Shoes?

A lot of men don’t really get shoes. It’s a stereotype but it’s true. A member of the male sex recently said to me, “I bet you have loads of shoes. I bet you have about eighteen.”

I was pretty sure I had misheard and asked a couple of times if he had said eighteen or eighty. Eventually it was clarified it was one-eight not eight-zero and I felt a little bit insulted. Eighteen pairs is not classed as “loads of shoes”. So when I pointed out that I had more than twice that figure he was a little taken aback, especially when I said I didn’t consider that a lot. I mean it hardly makes me Imelda Marcos. Any woman worth her salt has a vast and varied shoe collection. She is prepared for every situation this way.

In case you’re interested, he admitted to only owning one pair of shoes.

Some people might agree that eighteen pairs is “loads of shoes”, while others might think it is nowhere near enough. But in every wardrobe there should the staple items that form the foundation of any shoe collection. Here is my own personal opinion of six shoes I think every woman should own:-

 

  1. Classic Black Pumps

The LBD of footwear, so the LBS if you will. Timeless, chic and sophisticated, they will pretty much go with anything. If your budget can stretch to it, the holy grail of LBSs would be a pair of Louboutins. Even if you spend more than think you should on a pair of these, remember that they should last for a very long time and they’re essentially an investment.

 

  1. A Pair of Killer Heels

Whatever kind of shoe this may be is completely dependant on your individual style of taste. But essentially it is a great pair of heels, probably slightly higher than we should be walking in, that make your legs look amazing and make you feel invincible.

   3.   Ballet Flats

Thanks to Audrey Hepburn (as if she wasn’t wonderful enough) we have a shoe that can be stylish and also be incredibly comfortable. They’re also incredibly versatile so you can pair them with skinny jeans or a nice summer dress and they still look chic. I’m a big fan of the Red Herring flats at Debenhams – they’re well-priced but pretty sturdy, comfortable and they don’t rub.

(A good tip I have been given is that if your shoes do rub against your foot, run a candle along the parts causing you problems and it should prevent any more rubbing)

  4.  A Colourful Pair

They might be flats or they might be heels but they’re a pair of vibrant shoes that make you stand out in a crowd and add a splash of colour to what could be an otherwise dreary day.

 5.  Trustworthy Boots

These are the boots that will generally see you through the English winter, so they probably need to be waterproof, but something that can still look nice whether you tuck your jeans into them or you wear with tights.

6.   A Decent Pair of Trainers

I don’t really condone the wearing of sports gear of any kind if you’re not actually doing anything active but if you’re going to the gym, then why shouldn’t you have a flash pair of trainers to work out in? The main thing is that even if they look good, make sure they’re suitable for what you’re doing. If you’re taking up running, you want something sturdy and comfortable. If you do something like Zumba, you want something with good flexibility. My Energy Workout instructor advised that the sign of a good pair of trainers is if you can twist them both left and right, as well as folding in on themselves as allows the foot to move freely and prevent back problems (apparently it can all start with the foot).

Below is an example from my own personal collection…

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Hi, I’m Megan and…

Apparently it is never too old to teach an old dog new tricks.

I have never been the most technologically minded person in this modern age, but in the past few weeks I have over come my fear by publishing my first novel on Kindle (*insert cheeky little plug* it’s called For Better or Worse and is available for download on Amazon now) and now I am starting a blog.

For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to write. Now I have the book thing down (kind of) I’ve been advised to start my own blog. It’s supposed to be a good way of promoting myself as well as a means of regular writing. I don’t know if anyone out there on the inter-web actually cares about my opinion on anything, but I’m going to post them anyway.

The blog is entitled Working Life Out because I think to an extent that is what we’re all still trying to do. My posts are going to be based on things that interest me but also opinions on the things we women have to put up with in this modern day and age. So expect posts on fashion, beauty, well-being, relationships, sex (apparently the two are not mutually exclusive), pieces on women who I find inspirational and perhaps some occasional rant which is just me trying to get things off my chest. Hopefully you might find something that resonates with your, or at least pick up some handy tips.

This is the first time I’ve done anything like this, so bear with me while I find my cyber-feet, but if there’s anything you’d like me to address or see more of in the coming weeks, then suggestions are more than welcome.

Thank you for your time and hopefully I have peaked your interest, just a little.

Love
Megan
xoxo

P.S. I promise I will start inserting photos…it’s not always going to be this bland.