Anthony Joshua has ruined my boxing classes

Don’t get me wrong, I really, really like Anthony Joshua. He has amazing hands, he’s very hunky, and obviously he’s the best boxer in the world. There’s nothing not to like. It’s just, he ruined my boxing classes.

I’ve been going to them for a year now and have had ever such a good time. I really do enjoy punching people, which you’re not actually allowed to call it – it’s ‘sparring’, dahling – although if you’re my height it’s almost always ‘boob bashing’. It just feels so good, after a long hard day, to punch someone, doesn’t it? No?

Regardless of this, on Monday something bad happened. That is, about a hundred billion zillion people turned up to my class, so that I could barely move my tongue, let alone stretch out an arm for some boob bashing. I was surrounded mostly by muscly, hairy men, which normally I wouldn’t complain about, it’s only that at boxing everyone smells of cheese – myself included – such is the intensity of the exercise, and so it is not quite the aphrodisiac one might imagine.

It wasn’t only the men that had eaten into my personal space, but plenty of women too, many of whom had turned up in fashionable attire, indeed, causing me to doubt their boxing credentials. As I watched a hundred billion zillion perform squat jumps on one floor, I had major healthy and safety concerns. “I’m going to die!” I thought to myself. That’s when I realised it’s all Anthony Joshua’s fault.

Because what other possible explanation could there be for this surge of wannabe boxers? Two weeks after he won his incredible match, everyone has suddenly turned up to my gym. La La Land had a similar effect; apparently it has led to an increased uptake of tap dancing classes. Boxing, methinks, will be even worse as so many watch it these days. It is fast becoming as popular as football.

I’m not sure how long the Joshua effect will last, anyway. I do think he’s given the sport an air of sexiness that it simply doesn’t have. It’s the pain that’s the worst – not only from the workouts, but when you get punched too. Recently I was winded and, corr blimey, it hurt, although it nothing compared to when I got punched in the snuffer. “My nose!” I exclaimed to my instructor, thinking it had fallen on the floor. After that I decided I would never try to step out of my comfortable, recreational boundary.

But even recreational isn’t that easy, which is why I suspect the newbies will clear off over the new few weeks. Maybe this isn’t so much of an expectation as a desire; I’m needy and liked my classes before Joshua won, as I got loads of individual attention. I didn’t have armpits in my face, or have to share the ring with people that can’t put on a pair of gloves. How I miss these days before the glory-hunters came! It seems that fashionistas will try anything once; even getting punched in the face.

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Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign reaches Peake annoyance

They never seem to learn anything, the Left, when it comes to running a good campaign. Jeremy Corbyn, in particular, has got it all wrong in regards to finding his latest poster girl and has selected Maxine Peake to do the rounds. You know, that one from Shameless. In a series of earnest videos accompanied with anaemic piano music, Peake tells the populace not to vote for the Tories, who only care for “the privileged few”.

The funny thing is that a while ago, Peake would have been perfect to promote a Labour campaign, as someone born in Bolton to working class parents. But now life is different; she is a wealthy and successful actress. Many will choke on their custard creams when she complains of the “privileged few”, and not thank her for lecturing them on how to vote in the June election. With every word she says, Corbyn’s chances of losing increase. Trust me. It’s true.

But they never learn, these luvvies, do they? It wasn’t enough that Brexit and Trump won; they still continue to pontificate to the public on matters, as their fame must be directly correlated with intelligence, not a massively overinflated ego. This week, Hayley from Coronation Street could be found at a Labour conference telling people how brilliant Corbyn is. “We have 30 days to be on the right side of history”, she chanted at the crowd, which is fast becoming my least favourite expression. Quite what she was doing lecturing anyone on anything, goodness knows. She should stick to the day job.

Occasionally I wonder if these luvvies are part of a sinister plot to end Left-wingism – because you’d simply have to be so stupid to think that this pouting and posturing helps. All of these “informative” speeches may as well be translated into these words: “Dear everyone else, I think you’re thick”. They demonstrate nothing than the fact that celebrities do not live in the real world, such is their inability to read the public mood.

All this is not to say I think every celebrity is doomed, if he or she wishes to share a political opinion. It’s just you have to be the right type of celebrity. Trump, for instance, appealed to the masses because he has entrepreneurial nous. In times of economic instability, people look to leaders who have managed businesses before, believing that this can translate on a grander scale. They like people who advertise the “American dream”, or British one… Quite simply, it is better to be someone who’s been behind the camera, not posing for it.

That’s why actors should butt out. I’m not sure I want to take their opinion seriously, anyway. Why should I have to listen to Maxine Peake, or anyone else, telling me they know better about politics? Do they? Or do they just look good when they do a sad face? It doesn’t matter what I think, though; this campaign will simply speed up Corbyn’s descent. Only then with Peake realise it’s sometimes best to stick to the role you know.

South Eastern commuters need TLC, not more neglect

In a new, shiny document called Shaping the Future, the Department of Transport has set out its plan to “improve” South Eastern Rail. The franchise happens to be one of the largest in the UK and operates over 1,900 services each week day. Despite all that, it is jolly useless; speak to most commuters on the line and they will have experienced miserable delays and winter breakdowns, as well as llamas interrupting journeys. It really should be called South Eastern Fail.

Commuters don’t need any additional heartache, but I fear that is exactly what the government’s new plans will bring. The contract for the franchise is due to run out in December 2018, and so Chris Grayling is on the hunt for another service provider. Speaking of his strategy, Grayling acknowledges that services “on South Eastern rail network have been unacceptably poor for too long”, in spite of the fact that “new homes are” being built and “jobs created”.

Grayling is completely right to point all this out; the South East is experiencing something of a boom as London property prices increase, and more and more people and businesses are encouraged towards the countryside. Over the next few decades, we can expect to see this areas flourish exponentially as the result of the influx.

But the South East cannot reach its potential if the DfT’s proposed plans go ahead. To speed up the trains, and accommodate increased commuter demand, the government plans to cut down the service for intermediate stations on train routes. On a practical level, this means that smaller stations will receive around one train by the hour.

Were you to read Shaping the Future, the government’s strategy would appear slick and reasonable. But on a practical level, it stinks – and will make life hellish, indeed, for those dotted along the main lines. What officials tend to forget is that actually rather a lot of people live in these small patches, many of whom already deal with a very temperamental service. I have seen for myself South Eastern Rail’s complete inability to deal with hot and cold weather, as well as trains’ tendency to drive past stations deemed insignificant, if only to enhance the franchise’s punctuality record.

What I fear is that this hindrance on the line will not only bring the train service down, but the whole of the South East. At a time when city workers are more enticed towards the countryside, the frequency of trains should be on the up, not slowly winding down. Many commuters are bankers, lawyers and in other important industries. Grayling’s move will only suggest that the government doesn’t care about their journey, or role in the city.

Luckily, the South Eastern community does get a say in the plans, as the consultation runs until May 23rd, during which commuters may give their thoughts. They shouldn’t be fooled by this eloquent document; if it comes into fruition it will cement a future of misery.

What I find most bizarre about the strategy is the government should be doing everything it can to engage communities outside of London. Brexit was a huge indicator of how many feel neglected in the investment stakes, and the UK needs greater equilibrium in the balancing of its resources. When London Bridge has just had a huge refurbishment, South Eastern rail deserves a lot more TLC than it currently receives. Hourly trains are not just insubstantial, but embarrassing. Commuters should give South Eastern a taste of their own medicine; they must put their foot down.

Employers shouldn’t offer women egg freezing

o-FREEZE-EGGS-facebookOver the last few years, egg freezing has been pedalled as the answer to women’s fertility issues; particularly around the question of how to have a family and a career. So huge has it become that a group of British companies is in talks with CARE – the UK’s largest private chain of fertility clinics – to see if the service can be offered as a staff perk.

They wouldn’t be the first in the corporate sphere to do this. For the last two years, Facebook and Apple have given employees a £16,000 individual allowance for egg freezing. From the outset, this appears a very feminist, innovative thing to do, but the truth is that it’s a lot more complicated than that.

The trouble with egg freezing is that it’s still in its infancy as a scientific approach, and simply doesn’t have enough data to prove it should be wheeled out so extensively. The success rates are hardly astounding; records in 2012 show that out of 18,000 eggs stored for use, only 580 embryos were made for us, resulting in 20 live births. At a cost of £4,000 per cycle, it has presumably caused women a great deal of emotional and financial pain, far from providing the baby they so desired.

And yet, there is a myth that it’s the best way to manage one’s fertility. Indeed, if you speak to many women around my own age of 28 or older, many hold positive attitudes towards freezing, believing it can solve their career woes – as if it’s possible to put one’s eggs into a box that can be tucked away and retrieved later, when it’s time for Poppy Boo and Napoleon (or whatever else children will be called in 2027).

I completely understand the optimism around egg freezing. Having a biological clock is rubbish, and women face huge challenges when it comes to managing their desire for both child and career. If you look at the gender pay gap data, it’s clear that we get punished financially for having babies. So it’s no wonder many want to put it off, and count on radical solutions such as freezing.

But I still don’t think it’s the answer, and certainly not appropriate for organisations to promote it. In doing this they not only sell the idea that it’s a reliable method, but place the onus onto women to mitigate their own fertility – as if this is an entirely individualistic thing. But it is not; two people are ideally required to plan and balance the costs of having children.

The answer to solving women’s fertility issues lies not in medical science but in society. Couples need the time and economic resources to manage having a baby. There also needs to be a redress of traditional values, dare I say it. It seems to me that egg freezing has come about as society has become infantile. More people are renting than ever, and reluctant to settle down. In 2014, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, 816 women who stored eggs did so not because of career reasons – but because they were single.

It is not easy to tackle these cultural issues, and so we get solutions like egg freezing, which – though innovative – only serve to perpetuate the problems women have. They let employers off the hook when it comes to childcare support, and men too – who assume women can delay motherhood in the same way they can. It is a fallacy. And, as usual, women will be the ones to suffer.