Victoria Beckhams secret is out: shes changed. Havent we all? | Barbara Ellen

The fashion designers letter to her teenage self is curiously poignant but does it really teach us anything?

It would take a heart of granite not to be charmed by Victoria Beckhams letter to her youthful self in Vogue. I have a few selected quotes and what quotes they are. You are not the prettiest or the thinnest, or the best at dancing, at the Laine Theatre Arts college. You have bad acne You think the principal has put you at the back of the end-of-year show (in a humiliatingly bright purple Lycra leotard) because you are too plump to go on the front. (This may or may not be true). A little rough on yourself there, Victoria, but I enjoyed the crafty nod to libel lawyers.

Elsewhere, theres true love and the first meeting with future husband, David, in the Manchester United players lounge. Hes not even in the first team at this stage you are the famous one. Goodness, even in this playful little piece, someone seems very determined to get that fact in. It could almost make you wonder, in a nosy scumbag journalist kind of way, how many times the Beckhams have discussed this timing issue in private together?

As this is Vogue, there is much talk of fashion mistakes: You will turn up at awards ceremonies resembling a drag queen. But I look back at you and smile. It will add interest to your life to go from one extreme to another. Smile, Victoria? As the yoof say: pictures or it didnt happen! Just kidding! Its rather a cute piece, curiously poignant.

My own letter might begin: Young Barbara, put down those crimpers, turn down that Cure album and LISTEN TO ME! There would be careers advice: Why dont you quit churning out those tatty music fanzines and invent the iPod? or: Ever fancied writing a book about a school for wizards?. Fashion/decor tips: You think your personal style is post-punk meets urban gypsy, but youre delusional. Also, note that draping scarves over lamps doesnt make rooms look cosy.

Embittered, spittle-flecked railing about relationships: Ditch the feminist crap put on a short skirt, get yourself over to Annabels and flirt with all those lovely, rich old men like a nice young lady. Portents of doom: Be aware, young Barbara, that one day there will be something called the Internet and it will know that youre worthless.

More seriously, this human urge to reconnect with your former self, to advise, caution, avenge, protect, reassure, heal and the rest resonates deeply. It explains why our fictional culture is riddled with characters returning to home towns, tangling with old adversaries or stumbling upon past lovers… to apologise, demand apologies, create a whole new mess. Few of us are immune to the part reflective, part toxic downward spiral of if Id known then… , when in our hearts we realise that way madness lies.

Nor does it seem to be any accident that these letters are usually addressed to extremely young selves even the very old seemingly cant be bothered writing to the sullen, damaged middle aged (You blew it!). Amusing, too, how its automatically accepted that the older version of oneself is so much wiser and nicer, often with no supporting evidence whatsoever. Is this the consolation prize of age? The young you might have been better looking, but that person was an idiot, whereas now Oh dear, youre still a bit of an idiot. How can that be fair?

Perhaps Victoria could stick all this in her next letter. (She could make it a regular thing.) As a mother of four, shed already be aware of why such letters might serve as a touching diversion, but are ultimately pointless. After all, they rely on old you talking to young you when everybody knows that young people dont listen to a damn thing old people say.

Clever, Jeremy, just insult everyone

Some
Some men enjoy a post-work drink but where are the women? Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA

How fortunate we are to have Jeremy Corbyn to staunchly put his finger on the pulse of the issue bothering the nation. Which is after-work drinks culture or early evening socialisation. This benefits men who dont feel the need to be at home and also discriminates against mothers who will want to, obviously, look after the children they have got. Dont pull that face you know what he means.

In summary, men dont feel the need to be at home, so instead they stay out getting sloshed, sucking up to the boss, waking up in a pool of their own vomit, to discover theyve been promoted. Meanwhile, women are at home, presumably in pinnies, wafting around with feather dusters, with their hair done like Doris Day, looking after children they have got, as opposed to children they havent got. As for women who havent got children, or previously had them but not got them any more, their early evening socialisation habits must remain a mystery, as, indeed, are the habits of men who might occasionally feel the need to get home.

Its almost impressive how Corbyn manages to insult and stereotype both sexes at once. Surprisingly, this isnt one of those Labour statements Im starting to suspect are made out of flippantly arranged fridge magnets. Its attached to Labours Equality for Women pledges. Time will tell if this is the best way to address the all too genuine issue of male and female inequality in the modern workplace.

In the meantime, this might be an exciting indication that Corbyn is getting closer to addressing the chauvinism within his own party with something better than: Its nothing to do with me. I stand for a kinder, gentler politics. Just ask Diane.

Maybe parents have to be a bit pushy these days

Most
Most parents chief concern is their childrens school results. Photograph: Photofusion/REX
A survey of parents for the education charity
Transforming Lives for Good (TLG), by pollsters ComRes, says that, while parents are worried about bullying and unhappiness, theyre most concerned about their children achieving good results and meeting expectations.

At first, this seems to be a warped scenario vile, pushy tiger mums and dads putting terrible pressure on their kids to excel, heartlessly ignoring what else might be going on in their lives. However, one in five parents surveyed was frightened that their children might be bullied, which doesnt seem to hint at a crazed urge to get junior mastering advanced Mandarin and the viola before theyve put down their rusks.

TLG wondered about pressures put on parents by schools, but there could be an even simpler subtext to the results of this study. Parents putting performance first could merely be reacting to a world that does exactly the same. Theyre driven by a form of anxious pragmatism that acknowledges that results are all-important. So, not tigers, and not monsters either. Just parents who realise that, in an increasingly competitive world, sometimes a decent school performance might equal a sort of happiness.

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Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/03/victoria-beckham-letter-teenage-self

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