Monday, 2 November 2015

Coming Clean

I haven't been entirely honest with my GreyMatter readers over the last year.  I owe you all an explanation about a little scam I've had going - I hope you will forgive me for misleading you.

A few blog posts ago, I raised the alarm about a particularly nasty 'grey-hater'.  A rather snide, misogynistic fellow with a large beard, who hates his wife and doesn't have much to say about women in general.

In the post I re-tell how he offended my friend Midge, then wrote about it in his blog livingthedreamdfl.

Well, I have to confess - C.K. Blaine, the evil grey-hater, is in fact, me. Well - he's me in the the written sense and my husband (long suffering poor chap) in the pictures.

My very sporting, supportive husband - in an itchy, fake beard.

So - what on earth made me write a blog pretending to be a complete tosser?  Well Conrad (C.K.) Blaine is one of the main fictional characters in my new novel DOWN FROM LONDON.  I started blogging as him just as an experiment, to see how audiences might react to him (they hate him/love to hate him).  Very quickly, I was getting a lot of traffic through the blog and I have to confess it got a bit addictive!

My GreyMatter followers did a stirling job defending my lovely friend Midge (she was in on the whole thing) and I always felt a bit guilty about that, so towards the end of my time as C.K. I tried to redress the balance.  Here is his post in which he has a terrible experience when trying to dye the grey from his beard - MId-Life Meltdowns and Mentors.  So, you see, he has his comeuppance and eventually has some respect for those that chose to cut the dye.

We had enormous fun writing the blog and although I still haven't been forgiven for making him wear the beard, going out with my husband dressed as a hipster were some of the funniest outings we've ever had.  And the funniest thing of all?  Everybody - for a time at least - thought he was real. He's been quoted in newspapers and hotly debated and vilified on social media.  He made friends on Twitter - one lovely chap even wanted to take him for a beer. 

So, now you are all in on the joke, here are some pics of my husband 'bearding up' ready for another outing as C.K.Blaine.

And more disturbing still, several of my friends have told me that 'they would'.  This inflated the husband's ego somewhat until I pointed out that 'they wouldn't' if he was just being himself. Beards clearly have an intoxicating effect on women!

So, the book.  It's called Down From London and is set in my home town of Whitstable.  People who are 'down from London' got given the nickname of DFLs shortly after they began to visit in large numbers in the early 1990s.  The story is really about the tensions that still exist between locals and 'outsiders' - the mutual hostility, the misunderstanding and the huge class and cultural differences.  

Of course this isn't an isolated story of one town.  This happens everywhere, all over the world. Wherever there is a pretty, 'quaint' sea-side town within easy access of a city people will visit. Holiday-makers, tourists and urbanites will inevitably flock there, to escape city life, the heat, the poor air - whatever.  And in turn, this influx will inevitably change the character and dynamic of the town.  I hope people who read the book will see parallels in the places they may live too, whether they are stressed-out city dwellers desperate for some sea air, or long suffering coastal townspeople, fuming at the hoards of fancy-folk descending at the weekends.

So apologies for the deception - I hope you will enjoy Blaine's blog, now knowing it was me!  I hope also and that knowing my motivation behind the blog, you might want to check out my book.

It's available for Kindle and for Print On Demand on Amazon.  Please click the title below to take you through to my Amazon page.  


And if you live in the UK you can pop along to Whitable town and get the book in Harbour Books too! 

You can also check out the other things I'm up to on my website.  New blog coming soon.  Click AliDilnutt.

Thanks for your continued reading and support!  x

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Guest Silver Sister

I'm absolutely delighted to introduce my guest blogger, Sharon Tucker Rogers today.  We met some years ago, on-line, at the now infamous Cafe Gray and became 'real life' friends when a whole bunch of us Silver Vixens met for a posh nosh up in London one Christmas.  

I get to put my feet up for this post - while you are entertained by Sharon's no-nonsense, wicked take on her experiences at the hands of the Daily Mail. 



Sharon is third on the right.

"Who is that Backcombed Bitch?"

When Alison invited me to write a guest post for this blog I was delighted to have a platform to speak out from after seeing myself and my friends looking absolutely unrecognisable in a recent newspaper article.

I’m in this group shot, I’m in the middle, the one who looks like an over-inflated sex doll with a touch of Miss Piggy.  I sure as hell don’t look like me.


 It’s uncanny.

Five women, one of whom was me, were featured in the Daily Mail this week talking about how we have embraced our natural grey hair. I was a little reluctant to involve myself in this, firstly because my own political leanings are very different to those of this newspaper and also because I know that any of their articles featuring women attract a huge number of vitriolic comments online.  

Oh yes, there were comments, plenty of comments. But I could hardly be upset because I agreed with what the majority were saying. Last time I looked there were 675 comments. I read a few, agreed with the verdict of most, then stopped reading, but here are a few that are representative of the majority view:

Yes. Yes we do.

So why did the Daily Mail decide to represent us this way? Did they deliberately make us look old and frumpy?

Mrs. Frumpington-Smythe may have been an inspiration for them.

Or even…. Yes, the blue dresses, the stiff, matronly hair styles, maybe THIS was the style icon of choice!

Helen Mirren is a beautiful woman who looks bloody amazing in real life. Not quite so amazing when she was playing Queen Elizabeth II, all stiff and proper.

Ah, but maybe THIS is the Daily Mail’s true vision of womanhood. No coincidence, surely. Even the sofas are similar.

I really believed that some misogynist at the Daily Mail wanted us to look as dated and as unsexy as possible but having talked to a male friend about it I began to see things differently; whoever set this up really believes we look good. 

My friend’s husband is called Mick.  He suggested I may have missed the point and that there are men who really do like women to look like this. I bow to his greater knowledge on the subject of what some men find arousing. He opened my eyes to a whole world I knew nothing of, that of the strict school mistress fantasy. I’ve obviously led a very sheltered life. I didn’t even realise it was a thing. Where have I been these past 51 years?

Mick said I could quote him. This is what he said when I complained they’d made us look like ‘corporate bitches’.

“Not sure if they were aiming for corporate or the other C word. No, not that one; I meant cougar of course. Makeup, tight outfits, fuck-me shoes. I think you may be giving those morons too much credit. Think they missed the mark though, as one of your friends pointed out, your natural selves would have been a more appealing image.”

I expressed great surprise that any man could find us alluring in that group shot. I said I’d been too thick to realise that anyone could possible think we looked good to which he said:

“Ah, penny has dropped. Lots of Daily Heil readers are 70 plus so their idea of sexy is somewhat... ... trying to think of a good way of saying it, repressed maybe. Trust me, not understanding the true shallows of the male mind doesn't make you thick.  Blokes are quirky to say the least….I should point out that I can't speak for all men. Some of them have fascinations that I can't even begin to comprehend.”

That was unexpected. However, we did not appear in the article to titillate the inner school boys of certain men, we wanted to show women that they don’t have to dye their hair if they don’t want to, and that it can still look good. None of us feel that aim was achieved.

All the women featured in the Daily Mail shoot were already involved in the Naturalistas project. Vanessa Mills, who looks like a particularly prim lady from the 1960s in the Daily Mail images is herself a photographer and has been building a body of work that shows a very different picture women of our age who have embraced naturally grey hair. The following photographs show the difference between the Daily Mail’s styling and our own. All the photographs on the right hand side or below the Daily Mail photographs are by Vanessa and you can see more of her work here:  

Vanessa Mills as her real self, no bouffant! So much better.

Ros looks years older in the Daily Mail photograph than she does as her beautiful, natural self. She says she felt like a drag queen with that hair and makeup.

Denise looks beautiful in both these photographs and is not averse to a bit of glamour at times, (er, not this much though!) but I think she looks younger without over the top hair and make-up.

Rachel looks positively scary in that top photograph. There’s a definite look of strict school mistress. This is how she usually looks.

And this is me as myself, not dressed like some predatory cougar type woman which is how I look in the Daily Mail. Who the hell IS that back combed bitch?

I don’t regret doing the shoot, it was an interesting experience, I met lots of lovely people on the day of the shoot who were in no way responsible for how the Daily Mail chose to present us, they had a job to do and were themselves answerable to some disembodied person who was viewing the images remotely and saying yes or no, but it’s a shame that all five of us dislike how we looked in the final image.
Right - I’m off to embrace my inner Miss Piggy.  I didn’t even know I had one!

Sharon Tucker Rogers  

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Hair Nazi Nicky Clarke Bans Royal Greys

Hair Nazi Nicky Clarke Bans Royal Greys

Foppish English ex-Royal hairdresser, Nicky Clarke has recently been spouting off about The Duchess of Cambridge's grey re-growth.  The lovely royal abstained from using harmful dye - as recommended even by the manufacturers themselves, whilst pregnant and by doing so created a media storm of interest about her (SHOCK/HORROR) grey hair.  

Ginger, floppy haired Nicky, clearly bitter for being passed over as favoured hairdresser for the royals was reported as saying, 'Kate needs to get rid of her grey hair - it's not a good look.'

Now, please accept my apologies - I read this in the Daily Mail.  You must understand I only read this to know what the enemy are up to (and coz my Mum likes the cross word bit in the middle). But even I was shocked.  Obviously - if you look at him, me, or in fact Kate, could take him out with one headbutt of our hideous grey heads, but actually - WHO DOES HE THINK HE IS???

Well - let's see shall we...

He has the smallest Wikipedia entry ever...Nicky Clarke - that can't only be representative of the length of his scissors right?

He has the worst hair EVER.  Here he is through the ages.  Please enjoy as you stroke your hideous silver locks....

I''m a Lion, RAAA!

Hmm.  Maybe I shouldn't have slagged off the wife of the future King of England...

Eh up love, you look more like a bloke than I do.

Heavy.  And that's not just the beard.  Some serious fat camo going on here in the chin department.

Liking the medallion.  Englebert Humperkinck eat your heart out.

His chins came to the press conference to give him support.

Swedish porn star 


And so we see Nicky Clarke - no matter what his credentials 'doing' women's hair, is hardly in a position to comment on our lovely Kate's barnet.  He's like the worst of builders whose own house is a crumbling wreck, a complete eyesore that the local council and neighbours want torn down.  

So here is the offensive hair he talks about:

The Duchess of Cambridge 




A disgrace to our national identity!!

Letting down the whole of womankind!!

Except she isn't.  Here are some other choice things he (allegedly) said:

'Unfortunately, it's the case for women - all women - that until  you're really old, you can't be seen to have grey hairs.'

No?  Come and stop  me fop head.

'It's different for men, They can go grey and still be considered attractive.'

Well maybe - if they were attractive in the first place.  You don't stand a chance then CLARKE.

'Kate is such a style icon, even a few strands of grey would be a disaster.'

Bhopal was a disaster.  Chernobyl was a disaster.  Ebola was, and is a disaster.  A few strands of grey hair on the head of a woman in her 30s IS NOT A DISASTER!

Thank you Nicky Clarke, for reminding me exactly why I will never dye my hair again.  It's exactly because of 'men' like you.  :)

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Apologies once more - I have been very lax, nay tardy with my blogging.

I'm approaching my 45th birthday and I've decided (as I do most years) that 2015 is going to be the year I get really fit.  I've been almost really fit a few times.  But this time I mean business.  And this entails upping the ante with the weights.

I'm not sure how popular training heavy is with women my age.  I know there has always been a bit of trepidation - 'I don't want to get too big' or 'won't I get an injury?', but women like Nancy Reinhardt  have proved an inspiration for older women - especially those who've had several pregnancies and are in their peri-menopausal phase.  She and others like her have shown time and time again that as long as you use correct form and lift safe, training intensively and HEAVY can bring about more efficient gains than lots of reps and low weights.

Check out this Pinterest Board - I'm not even 50 but I want to look like these beautiful women!  They have one thing in common - they work HARD.  My goals have changed in the last few years.  Being thin doesn't even come into it.  Like the acceptance of my natural hair colour, I've accepted that I'm a short, curvy girl.  Rather than fight it, I'm working hard to make those curves as curvy as they can be.  More important still, for me, is to be STRONG.

As I mentioned in my previous rant, er, blog, I'm rather peri-menopausal.  I didn't even know what this meant until about 6 months ago.  In November 2013 everything changed.  I thought I was coming down with the flu - I have small kids, their grandparents had it, they had it, other mums had it.  I had all the symptoms - hot head and banging headache, nausea, dizziness, dry mouth and dehydration.  Yet a day later, nothing materialised.  No flu, not even a cold.  Yet I was so tired, I had to lie down and sleep once I got the boys in from school for half an hour (thank you Pixar!)  It was baffling.  Then I Googled my symtoms...

I'd had migraines a lot in pregnancy, but few, apart from when I was a teen around period time, since.  All my migraines had been with aura - the flashing, glowing lights that disrupt vision before the headache hits you.  What I discovered is that migraine can come back when your body is peri-menopausal too.  This time, I realised, I'd had a migraine without aura.  I marked the dates when I was likely to feel like that again the next month and BOOM!  Right on schedule, I had two days of migraines.

Oh, and look!  Here I am 'enjoying' a migraine whist on a steam train with the kids meeting Santa!  Imagine the joy!  I actually thought I was going to puke on an elf's head.

The sensation reminded me very much of morning sickness and not surprisingly, I realised I was craving the same foods I had when I was pregnant - oily fish, curly kale, red cabbage, nuts, seeds, etc.

So four months down the line I've adjusted my life to accommodate this unpleasant development - I'm on magnesium, vitamin B supplements and omega 3/6/9.  I eat iron rich foods and veer towards an alkaline diet.  I've found ginger tea to help with feeling sick and avoiding my beloved red wine and coffee for that week before my period, a real help.

There's a couple of things I haven't conquered:  Night sweats.  Just bloody awful and bleugh;  Skin break outs.  I never had acne or many spots, but all of a sudden I have bright red zits all over my cheeks.  I mean really, what the actual bloody hell?!

So, if you do know of any miracle dermatalogical treatment I can try, or a way of switching off the temperature when it starts to climb, let me know!

Oh - and the silver hair?  No complaints there.  I love it!

I'm treating myself to a make up sesh at Fenwicks for my birthday.  Hopefully they can guide me to the right products for my horrible pretend teen skin and for some new ideas for make-up.

As for training heavy, there are some great advantages.  A) You can beat your teenage son's mates at arm wrestles.  B) You can embarrass your teenage son by beating their mates at arm wrestles.

Got to be worth it just for that.  And remember - you ARE worth it!

Next blog - maybe some training pics (it so depends...) and what I'm lifting in which split.  And some news about my new book due out in late Spring.

Just a reminder - my novel, Hollowshore, is available for Kindle and print on demand.