The Age of Impoliteness
Just written a rant for The Huffington Post on (the lack of) modern manners:
The Single Girl’s 10 Point Survival Guide to Valentine’s Day
Dug this one up from the archives… enjoy…!
To the Single Girl (SG), Valentines Day (VD) can be about as welcome as an STI – and as impossible to ignore. However, although VD could be construed as a conspiracy against the fabulously free, forced to witness the lovers exchanging bodily fluids on street corners, the lurve songs on the radio and every retail outlet literally making you see nothing but red – there are a few survival strategies that can help.
1. Close observation of your attached friends will reveal that VD has much in common with Christmas, its closest over-commercialised and thus fundamentally message-lost neighbour (Baby Jesus and Love being drowned by a sea of tack). Any event demanding jollity as a prerequisite rarely is jolly – even if it involves presents (25th December) or, in the case of VD, sex. The pressure to perform amidst heightened expectation will almost always lead to disappointment, and not just in the bedroom. Those who pine for restaurants and rings will inevitably have a commitment phobic partner who will dissolve into such a panic that they either ditch them or forget about the occasion altogether and after a screaming row offer a peace offering of some dead flowers from the local garage. Vice versa will be true for those who believe that the VD experience is overrated and should be ignored – their beloved will be going all out to impress, and just as much discord will ensue.
2. In the unlikely event your attached acquaintances actually appear to relish VD, and are of the obnoxious ilk who perpetually flaunt their blinged-up left hand whilst glorying in their over-priced plans, then let them have their moment and simply tune out their chatter. For their excitement is simply because they don’t have as much of a life and don’t get out as often as an SG. They and their disposable income are tied up with the demands of other people, both large and small. You, on the other hand, get to play after midnight if you so wish, since you do not have a partner lacking the stamina or a babysitter on double time, both desperate to return home.
3. The SG too has reason to celebrate the 14th February – being single means that everything is possible. You may still end up with Bradley Cooper; the smug girl who sits opposite you at work cannot, as she is too tied up taking trips to IKEA with Wayne from IT.
4. You also have the option to make mischief with your attached work colleagues, and ensure they, not you, are possessed by the green-eyed monster. If you really feel the need to fight back by showing off something tangible from someone who loves you, employ the reciprocal arrangement. You and a friend send each other a delivery of flowers/chocolates/gift of your choosing to the office, and when it arrives you can be as mysterious as you like.
5. There is nothing wrong with marking the day with acts of kindness to people who will always love you and never ditch or divorce you – your friends and family. You are at liberty not to comply with the big VD commercial cabal, but you can embrace it if you feel the urge, and make calls and give chocolates to all those who mean something to you.
6. Of course a bullish perspective on VD can sometimes be hard to attain for an SG, especially for those recently single. If you suspect it is going to be tough, don’t put yourself in harm’s way of cooing couples wrestling with an unappetising set menu in an overcrowded restaurant, and instead give yourself the chance of finding fun. Attend a house party for singles, or go with fellow SGs and your gay best friends to a nightclub of the pink pound persuasion.
7. If your relatives are going through a tactful phase you can even visit them. The best 14th February I’ve ever had was the one I spent with my Dad, who needed a wingman to a mind-blowingly good party. My enjoyment of the evening was further enhanced by what I had viewed from my cabbage (taxi-cab) window enroute – a queue of grumpy couples for Aberdeen Angus steak house, the restaurant chain so dubious that every other day of the year it is the sole realm of particularly clueless tourists.
8. You the SG has the advantage of not having to succumb to any pressure that is attached to VD. Give yourself a break – this is the one of the few days of the year where you are absolutely allowed to stay in. The ‘special someone’ gets to be you – a bit of self-pampering is no bad thing, and you can actually take charge of what you really want. You can just have a ‘big duvet’ moment in front of a DVD, accompanied by the delicious dessert and/or rabbit of your choice (always keep spare batteries). If you long for love from a partner, you need to start by loving yourself before someone else will properly, so indulge yourself this 14th February.
9. Unlike many an attached soul, you will wake up this Friday having not had to fake anything the night before and wallet intact.
10. Best of all, you have reached February 15th, a date which is always a cause for celebration and congratulation. You have made it through the worst six weeks of the year – the Christmas cash flow issues, the dark long nights. You’ve got over VD and can move on to the pleasures of Spring and those long Summer nights so tailor made for SG footloose and fancy free fun.
Literati, Digerati & Twitterati Combine For The Twitter Fiction Festival
The Literati, Digerati and Twitterati are finally officially coming together – today marks the start of the first Twitter Fiction Festival.
From a historical perspective, this will no doubt be seen as a natural progression of serialised writing. Publishing got a new breath of life from Dickens’ serialisation success and I’ve no doubt that the festival will similarly benefit the literary world in the twenty first century.
Hosted by Twitter, writers from five continents will showcase creative storytelling experiments in five languages.
Obviously, I’ll be watching the official hashtag stream – #twitterfiction – with much interest. I co-authored a book published by Bloomsbury this year, The Twitter Diaries, with my friend Georgie Thompson. We met in real life at a New Year’s Eve bash, she jetted back to London while I remained in NYC and we became fast friends from transatlantically tweeting. A novel seemed the obvious step – and I was rather proud to see it described in Metro today as a “fluffy piece of chick lit” – yes it is! We set out to write exactly that – we all sometimes need some pure escapism in our lives. Our two heroines, @StellaCavill and @TuesdayFields continue to tweet suitably fluffy new material – whether it be about Daniel Craig’s Skyfalling, Maggie Smith’s Downton one-liners or a not so profound tweet yesterday from Stella about teeth whitening.
I’m imagining the #twitterfiction on offer will often be somewhat more highbrow, but the authors will face the same challenges and delights from the 140 character discipline. Having to write in tweets made Georgie and myself sharper. Funnier. We agreed that everything should be properly spelt – we were writing a book after all – and sometimes our characters would go onto a second tweet, but The Twitter Diaries in the end read like a fast paced conversation. It will be fascinating to see how the authors taking part in the festival narrate their stories, to what extent they write “standalone” tweets.
One thing is for sure – the literary and digital worlds will be all-a-twitter for some time to come.
My New Book
I’m very happy and excited that the following has just been announced in PubLunch. It’s a huge privilege to be working with St Martin’s and I know that I will learn so much from the legendary Michael Flamini. A massive thank you to my long time literary agent Sam Hiyate for his support over the years through thick and thin.
“Writer and television commentator Imogen Lloyd Webber’s THE CHEAT SHEET: HOW TO BE NEVER KNOWINGLY SHORT OF AN OPINION, a compendium of facts, formulas and philosophies that will make you the savvy star of any conversation in Obama’s America, Cameron’s United Kingdom and around the world, to Michael Flamini at St. Martin’s, by Sam Hiyate at The Rights Factory (NA).”
James Bond’s “Granddaughter”?!
Just written a piece for FoxNews.com in celebration of the new Bond movie “Skyfall”…
Huffington Post: Glass Half Full, America
My latest piece for the Huffington Post about America’s place in the world economy has just been published:
Banking Reform: It’s Really Very Simple
There is a lot of confusing, complicated talk about banks and regulations, but I’ve boiled it down to this.
We need to look at what Canada did right: it was the only G7 country to survive the financial crisis without a state bail-out for its financial sector. It has an uncomplicated and well co-ordinated regulatory framework, with capital requirements at its core.
Banking systems should be based, as the Canadian system is, on principles rather than the rules.
These must be bold, simple, transparent and verifiable. They must be easy to understand and possible to enforce.
It is key that financial institutions retain risk.
Regulations are required as throughout history it has been proven, give a banker an inch, he (it usually has been) will take a mile.
Syria: Some Key Points
So much has been written and said about Syria and Assad’s brutal dictatorship. He must go, the question is of course, how. In all my reading these points have come up and I think are worth highlighting:
– Within Syria, the Syrian uprising is popular but not universal. In June 2012 it was estimated that roughly a third of its population are pro Assad’s regime, a third of people support the insurrection and the remainder do not like either side.
– The Syrian regime is backed up by the world’s 15th largest military – to put it in perspective, Libya’s was protected by the 50th.
– The main opposition group, the Syrian National Council, is made up of seven infighting factions, including Christians, Kurds and the Muslim Brotherhood. They are likely to turn on each other when Assad goes. Arming them is not without risk.
– When Russia warns of anarchy in Syria we must listen to them. The Russians know what arms are sitting inside the country – they sold 75% of Syria’s weapons to them, including those of the chemical variety. Assad spent $700 million on Russian weapons in 2010.
– America – and the West – are in the unfortunate position of being in a classic no win, damned if you do, damned if you don’t, situation. America can harm with best intentions and as seen in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia, it is very hard to shape good outcomes inside other countries.
The Syrian elites, the middle classes, are right to fear chaos. It is understandable if what they really want is good governance, however delivered. Transition needs to be orderly and will require Russian (Syria’s key ally) support.
But transition must occur.
The Presidential Campaigns Probably Aren’t About You
America is currently experiencing the worst Presidential election campaigns that money can buy.
The irony is, that the campaigns probably aren’t about you.
Keep this in mind: America is a 51-49% country. Partisans have already decided how they are going to vote.
What Obama and Romney need are independent voters, the estimated 6 percent of people who haven’t made up their minds – in swing states.
For the Presidential election is decided via Electoral College. So dismiss every national poll you see as interesting, but actually somewhat irrelevant to the result. The key polls are those in swing states – and everything both candidates are now doing is to try and win those who are undecided in these areas.
The winner of this Presidential election will thus be the politician who wins the middle ground. Which is one of the reasons why, although President Obama should be losing this election with the way economy is, he’s still right up there. Romney had to go way to the right in the primaries and the question is – how long will that stay in voters’ minds.
My July 2012 call for November 2012? Barring all Eurozone meltdowns (Merkel is Obama’s best friend right now; the misbehaving monolith that is the Eurozone, Romney’s), I believe it will be a 2 point election. And very possibly that one candidate will win the popular vote and the other the electoral college. Which would mean Obama for a second term, by a whisker – and the result may just end up in the Supreme Court again…