If you don't keep a healthy sense of the absurd about you, these can seem like strange times to be a woman. Last week we had a Channel 4 documentary about "rinsers" – young glamourpusses who use social networking sites to persuade rich men to buy them gifts, apparently for nothing in return.
After scouring the land for three camera-genic babes who actually do this, the producers of Sex, Lies and Rinsing Guys would have us believe that girls like Hollie, Danica and Jeanette represent a social trend. Any fool can see that they don't; but their lurid "stories" do represent a media trend to pore over every last detail of a "phenomenon" which suggests the gold-digging bimbo is alive and well, and all that nasty equality for women business was just a horrid nightmare.
Then yesterday came news about the UK launch of Seekingarrangement.com, the American internet dating site "which links wealthy men with young women" (it also hooks up the inverse arrangement, and plenty of gay men too, but that's not as interesting). One "sugar daddy" signed up is an MP, but most are bankers and businessmen with an average income of £170,000 – and the site claims there are 10 female "sugar babies" to each daddy. Adding a dash of realism to his PR schtick, site founder Brandon Wade reveals earnestly that most of the young women are debt-laden students or single mothers. At last! An alternative to the welfare state that also hits the higher-tax bracket!
We also had Part Three of the Samantha "I'm too beautiful" Brick chronicles in yesterday's Daily Mail: now the newspaper's golden goose has announced she's "proud to be a trophy wife". Last week, Brick was wittering on about immoral French women who constantly try to "steal" her husband Pascal. Yesterday's confessional reveals that Pascal checks her weight, gives her a wardrobe allowance and always opens a car door for her. Despite her presumably bountiful contract with the Mail, one of the highest-paying papers on Fleet Street, Brick insists that Pascal's business somewhere in rural France makes him the breadwinner in their home, "though I still work part-time to keep my wits about me".
Something about Brick doesn't stack up to me. Does Pascal actually exist? We see him in photographs that accompany all of Brick's features, but is he just an actor? Come to think of it, is Brick herself a fictional creation?
I can't deny that it's fun reading that there are still women in the world silly enough to want to set the clock back 60 years, but there have been a couple of times in the past week that I've wondered whether these misogynistic caricatures could be a joke at our own expense.
Now I know why the fans still give Chelsea stick ...
Celery. It's either unappetisingly limp or half-frozen after just one day in my fridge, and I rarely find any good use for it. So I was amazed to see the streets of west London strewn with the stuff this weekend after Chelsea FC paraded in an open-top bus.
A commentator observed that fans were flinging celery at the team, but offered no explanation for its symbolism. Was this a subtle dietary tip for "fat" Frank Lampard? Or an organic-deli, SW3-style alternative to the inflatable banana? Or even a punning protest at the outrageous "salaries" paid to Roman Abramovich's players?
A couple of the Indy's resident Chelsea fans, gracious in victory, have been kind enough to relieve me of my ignorance. A popular theory is that celery-tossing began in the 1980s when Chelsea were struggling; the untended state of the Stamford Bridge pitch led fans to speculate that there might actually be celery growing on the field, which in turn inspired a chant about sex with vegetables. (Ah, the rhetorical inventiveness of the football fan!)
Once the song caught on, it seemed obvious enough to simultaneously fling celery at the players – a tradition lately banned, or at least discouraged. All thoughts of protecting the billion-pound team from vegetal injury were abandoned on Sunday, though. The only remaining question is, should Abramovich now upgrade the club's symbolic veg to something posher – fennel bulbs, say?