Fox (n): carnivore of genus vulpes; crafty person; scavenger; (vb) to confuse; -ed (adj): to be drunk.
Broadband from £5.99 a month with an included wireless router when you sign up to Plusnet - terms apply

Tuesday 8 November 2011

A bad machine blames the programmer.

WHEN men do bad things, they usually do it to other people.

Carlos the Jackal - once the world's most wanted terrorist, the Osama bin Laden of his day - thought nothing of tossing hand grenades into packed bars, or firing rockets at a nuclear power station. He thought he was right.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn thinks nothing of seducing or attacking women, and doesn't seem to see the difference between the two methods. He also thinks he is right.

Dishface and Gideon think they were born to run the country, and that if their policies have negative effects on its people then it is the people's fault. The single mum should have got married, the pensioner should work harder, the disabled should find a cheaper wheelchair. Dishface and Gideon not only think they're right, they have been told it since they were babies.

And of course, Simon Cowell inflicts the X Factor on much of the English-speaking world.

Women, on the other hand, generally do bad things to themselves. And they always think they are wrong.

So someone trying to win a singing contest will dress like a hooker in order to persuade people to listen to her voice. Someone whose career depends on her looks will abandon them as they mature and let her face and body be cut, scarred, peeled and injected to make others happy.

Dawn French spent years telling us and herself how great it was to be morbidly obese, and now says next-to-nothing about losing half her body weight because whatever she says she will seem to have been wrong at some point.

Cheryl Tweedy, meanwhile, hasn't eaten a proper meal in years - Nando's doesn't count, love - and now announces she is under doctor's orders to fatten up, while posing for photographs that are airbrushed to make her look thin because looking normal would be wrong.

The way men and women are presented to the world by television, advertising campaigns, newspapers and magazines does not lead people to think these celebrities should be pitied. Instead, men behave like oafs because oafs are what they see, and women blame and hurt themselves for not being someone else's idea of perfect.

It can lead, in extremis, to cases like that of Rebecca Jones and her daughter Maisy. Rebecca has anorexia, is 5ft 1in tall and weighs five stone. Her condition means she does not have enough trace elements in her diet, including potassium which is vital to make the heart beat, and could have a heart attack at any time.

She encourages Maisy to eat whatever she wants, as she knows her own attitude to food is unhealthy. Unfortunately Maisy, seven, is a stone and a half overweight for her age and wears clothes for children two years older. Neither of them is healthy, although Maisy could well grow out of it.

The fact that in general men do bad things to other people and women do bad things to themselves is not new, but perhaps things might improve if we treated them more alike - if men sometimes asked for help rather than punishment, and if women could stop punishing themselves.

Yes, I know, pigs might fly. But I have lost count of the famous people I could diagnose as victims of something, and the number of times I have explained to someone that truly emulating such people would make them miserable, angry and probably hungry.

We can but dream that one day we will rise above our wiring.