Katy Guest: PE? It's a lesson in bad feeling

You'll laugh, you'll seethe but you won't want to leave
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The Independent Online

The latest research from the University of the Bleeding Obvious has revealed that school PE lessons put girls off exercise. Well, I'll go to the foot of our stairs. In my school reports, my PE teacher gave me C for effort and B for attainment (the injustice, among a sea of As!), always presuming that "Katy could do better next year if only she applies herself". I was tall – mortifyingly, prematurely tall – so I was supposed to be good at sports. What she missed was that I was trying my damnedest; I was just rubbish. All PE taught me was to stop trying.

You could, of course, say this about any lesson which teaches children that they are bad at it, but no other lesson teaches them this while they are standing in their underwear in front of bullies, which is a cast-iron way to make a bad feeling stick.

Some girls at school are cut out for public displays of their physical prowess and perfect flesh, but those few are the blessed, who will thrive whatever life throws at them. It would surely be kinder, and more helpful in the long term, to leave the rest alone to play chess or read a book while PE lessons are going on.

Wedding belle blues

As this season's most reluctant wedding bore (I got engaged in January), I am as pleased as anyone when a senior family court judge sets up a special foundation to save marriage. But something tells me that Sir Paul Coleridge has got it a bit back to front: I see what he means when he criticises the "Hello magazine" culture of divorce; I just don't think that "advocating" marriage is a very useful way to combat the problem. In fact, I believe that some of the biggest "advocates" of marriage are causing it.

There is a huge industry around getting married, which seems to exist to hide and distort all the important reasons for doing it. Every bride is pressured to be a selfish brat and think about "me me me". My friend was almost thrown out of a white frock shop when she insisted that her wedding day was not All About The Dress. And why must any venue with a wedding licence insist on fancy caterers who charge £50 a head for silver-service nonsense "because we want your day to be special"? What if "special" is just a bag of chips and getting married?

What also confuses me is how the institution of marriage would be undermined if everyone were allowed to do it. My marriage will not mean any less to me if my gay best man is allowed to marry his partner, too. Rather, it will mean less to me if society deems marriage so irrelevant that only people selected by popes are allowed to do it.

I'm all for counselling before marriage, but for that I'll look to my parents, who were married before all this palava was thought necessary, and not to a judge who says he goes on expensive holidays to keep his marriage alive. In the meantime, any couple who can survive all the wedding-industry meddling without falling out must be starting out with a good foundation.

Calling all bookworms...

I can't wait for the results of the Bookworm Survey just launched by Mslexia at dotsurvey.me/781918d2-fa4v374. It is questioning the readers of "the magazine for women who write" to find out about our attitude to books. Not what's in them, but the lovely, keepable, strokeable books themselves. It asks how many books people have kept from childhood, and whether they file them alphabetically, by genre, by colour, shape and size or "according to the Dewey Decimal system, of course". It asks about keeping, lending and looking after books. I just hope that it doesn't find a secret cohort of readers who turn page corners over and scribble on the books in ink.

Do dry up about the hosepipes

For all those angry people who keep asking why we still have hosepipe bans when it's pouring with rain, here's the really very simple answer. Drought conditions were announced because ground water levels are low – in places, lower than in 1976. The water we drink and bathe in comes from ground water. Rain needs to seep through the ground in order to top up ground-water levels significantly before we can call off the hosepipe ban. When the ground is hard after hot weather, or when the rain falls in summer, rather than winter, a lot of rain evaporates before it can seep through the ground. It will take many months of summer rain before the "drought" is over. Now, a question for you: if it's so bloomin' rainy where you are, why do you want to use a hosepipe anyway?

No sex please, dear Gwynnie

As opposed as I am to public snogging (if it's a sexual act you need to get a room, and if it's not then you're doing it wrong), even my bitter old heart melted at the sight of Posh and Becks giggling as they were encouraged to kiss at an LA basketball game. The kiss was demanded by the stadium's "KissCam" after it caught them whispering together – which is just about all right in public, as long as it's not accompanied by lascivious looks. But what does seem a bit gross is Gwyneth Paltrow telling Amanda de Cadenet on a new TV show about her favourite sexual position. OK, she was asked, but she didn't have to say! For the record, she's "down with all of them", as is Jane Fonda, who went into far more detail. Just as we don't want to see the Beckhams' tonsils, we don't want to picture celebrities on their knees.

Let's all toast this Jubilee!

Thank you, Helen Mirren, for giving the OK for "grumpy anti-monarchists" to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee. "I didn't celebrate [the Silver Jubilee] and was appalled by the celebrations," she said. "In my idiocy I missed out." This time around she intends to raise a glass to Her Majesty, and what's good enough for Dame Helen is good enough for the rest of us, especially if we've just been invited to our first-ever street party.

Janet Street-Porter is away