Tag Archives: auntie Rita is coming to london

Give us Barbie on the Dole

This week I came across a blog published by the high-brow, intellectual daily The Guardian, which attacked the gender stereotypes and sexualisation, rife in the toy/kid’s entertainment industry.

As a woman I agree  with the author: mainly because my mother refused, point blank, to buy me Barbie or any other similar doll – unless and until they could give me a ‘positive role model’.  Apparently, one day I would understand.

Being a child of the rampant consumerism of the Eighties, I struggled to see the problem in owning a doll, which in turn owned a collection of pink ballroom gowns in every cut and in every shade of pink.

Don’t get me wrong; I had many toys and dolls,  such as Monchichi the clever monkey, beautifully illustrated atlases (to check out whence monkeys – and our ancestors –  originated), discs with matching (and beautifully illustrated) books: Andersen’s Tales , the Grimm Brothers’ Tales, Aesop, Ancient Greek Myths, Norse Legends, Alice in Wonderland,  and from Scandinavia , the land of happy kids,  I got Alfons and the Karlsson-on-the-Roof.

Still, it was Barbie I coveted. I pestered, argued with, cried, begged, protested with my mother, to no avail.

Barbie speaks…

This went on untill… Barbie spoke to me, while I gazed, enraptured at the latest Mattel addition, proudly occupying the centre of our local department store’s toys window.

I cannot remember exactly what Barbie told me, but hers were not  soft-spoken words extending invitations to shopping sprees and longs lazy days on the beach. Barbie uttered a call to arms:  “Go on, take the plunge, make a statement, buy your own Barbie doll”

So I did.

In the spring of 1988 I finally turned up at school with a Barbie, purchased with my own pocket money and during a school trip, miles away from my mother. Faced with the fait accompli, the lady mother acquiesced.

 There I was, clutching my long-limbed, smiley Barbie, showing off my own plastic representation of unattainable human perfection to friends (and their friends). Result!

I had won, Barbie had won, the Eighties had won.

And so had my mother, because of all the Barbie dolls I could have bought, I chose Barbie Doctor. So perhaps it was my mother,  who had always encouraged me to take charge and to stand up for myself and what I thought right,  who laughed last.

Life after Barbie…

My Barbie Doctor sported a beautiful, frilly lab coat, a stethoscope, and, if memory serves me well, a pink doctor’s bag for emergencies.

I soon tired of Barbie  anyway (kids are fickle), and saved next for a subscription to Poochie the Pink Dog’s mag. Poochie’s copybooks and stampers and even ear muffs followed. I loved Poochie because she was fun and organised, friendly and resourceful, not because she was pink (though I did not object to that)

So, in conclusion: dear parents, I understand your worries but, please, relax a little. Kids are practical and shrewd individuals. If you talk to them, they will listen.

I agree girls (or boys) should not be under the impression that they will necessarily grow into long-limbed, narrow-waisted, white-toothed adults.  Keep telling girls and boys that we can all make a difference, we can aspire to give something back, we can try to improve ourselves (whatever size we are) and that makes us special and beautiful.

Keep saying that they are beautiful because their minds are creative, intelligent, honest and a little wicked. Incidentally,  keep insisting that they eat well and are active, for their own sake, not to look like Barbie.

But should we really ban Barbie?

Barbie on the dole

Barbie appeals to kids. Period. So, it’s Mattel we must tackle!  

I’ll start: Dear Mattel management,

please, give us more natural, credible Barbies.  I would like to see

Barbie Professor,

Barbie Mathematician,

Barbie Fund Manager,

Barbie Business Owner,

Barbie Cashier,

Barbie Anthropologist,

Barbie  Campaigner (complete with pink placard),

Barbie on the Dole (now that would capture the Zeitgeist), applying for jobs

Barbie Chef,

Barbie Builder,

Barbie Cab Driver (ok, the cab can be pink, if you really insist),

Barbie President of the WHO/UN/USA

Barbie Detective

Barbie Judge

Barbie Waitress

Barbie Teacher

Barbie Fight Fighter

Barbie Cleaner. 

I want to see Barbie living in a normal flat, or still living with her parents, because she is paying off her student debts. (BTW who are Barbie’s parents?)

Give us Barbie looking dishevelled after a run, make her a little plumper, while you are at it.

Do that, and I will buy a Barbie for my Godson and every child I know and care about!


Why I am giving away my 1st book

Call it Christmas spirit (No, not that spirit: I am NOT drunk), but I have decided to give away my 1st book!  ‘Auntie Rita is coming to London’. 

It’s a story that means much to me. It is partly based on real events and has taken me three years to write (also: 12 drafts, two editors and a lot of cheek to self publish it). After considerable hesitation, I have forced myself to publish it and would like to share it with you.  Why should you invest your precious time reading my stories?

If you are a writer, you know the excruciating pain and happiness of sending your book out into the world, not knowing if it will be read, or even worse, not knowing whether it will be understood or liked. You brace yourself for harsh critique, but hope someone, somewhere will treat your characters kindly. You hope that somewhere, somehow, your story will bring a smile and some relief to someone. You hope.

You overcome the fear of ridicule, of unwittingly offending, of rejection, because your wish to share your story is stronger. So, perhaps, you will understand why I am allowing you to upload a free copy via Story Cartel.

I really want to share this story with you, I want you to know about auntie Rita and her journey to London, to give her niece a letter that cannot be posted.

Meet Gigi and laugh/wince at her farcical bid to bag her dream job at ‘The Venerable Institution’.

What would you do if a dear friend got married in secret?  See what Ian, Charlotte and Bea go through in ‘The Sudden Bride’ and if you have ever wanted to know the truth, cost what might, you will know why Henry is so bent on finding his beloved Artemisia’s secret in ‘In the Shadows’

If you are addicted to reading, you know the magic bond that a story can form between a writer and his/her reader. I see it is a joining of hands between people who will never meet, and yet come to share something meaningful and intimate.

This is the magic that books only can create. It belongs to us, lovers of books, it’s ours.

And so, dear readers to be, I hope you will not find me presumptuous and will accept this offering. I know you are likely to be busy, but if you can, read my collection of short stories this Christmas break, and, if you can spare time, let me have your thoughts.

Believe me, I will not squander this chance: I will take on board your views, as I sit to write my second book. 

New characters, new stories, new beginnings, here’s one.  Here’s to you all. May 2014 bring us all more and better books and a fulfilling life.

All the best, Marella

How to be a ‘beta’ person – Tip #1 proclaim your beta-ness

Name the last time your skin was clear, you looked well, you spoke well, your hard work was recognised and led to a resounding success, you were disciplined and productive and, entering the lift at work, you were greeted by a couple of high-ranking managers in your firm, upon which you said something both witty and to the point. 

Can you? Congratulations, you are an alpha person, your life is a by-word for fulfilled ambitions, efficacy, inspiring others and forwarding your causes while looking after yourself and your loved ones without once failing!

Should you ever fail, you will not feel sorry for yourself, OH NO, you will learn a few precious lessons, which will help you succeed more in the future.

You deserve to be described by the first letter of the ancient Greek alphabet: alpha (after all, the ancient Greeks tended to be overachievers) Health and safety warning: this blog will appal you, look away!

Can’t you?  Neither can I! That’s because I am a beta person. I can rightfully and easily be described by the second letter of the ancient Greek alphabet.

How do I know? Because I have devised my own alpha/beta test and have tested myself.

On good days, I can tick only one of the following elementary rules of alpha-ness

1) looking well no matter what

2) resist everything including temptation

3) work hard and efficiently

4)  always win an argument/ a match

5) always pass a test in style

6) use humour/flirt to one’s advantage

7) charm everyone with aura of serenity and poise, look calm and benign

Alpha people, if you are still reading this and you notice any omission to the cardinal alpha rules, take this as a further proof of my beta-ness.

Last time I got close to checking 6 out of these 7 cardinal rules, I was wearing my best suit, having followed a strict diet, which had led to a considerable weight loss. Meanwhile, I had worked very hard on a niche project, which had made my  team look forward-thinking and my company look well when it turned out to be the only in the industry able to discuss the niche matter I had taken in hand.

Tick rules 1, 2, 3, and 4.

I ticked rule 5 in the afternoon of that fateful day, when I was further able to reply to follow up questions re: the niche project. My boss was so puffed up with reflected glory that I briefly considered charging people for taking pictures of him parading up and down the office, collecting praise.

I did not: people secretly took pictures  without paying a penny and I stood by.  To this day, I regret it, because my alpha-ness abruptly ended  soon afterwards, and it would have been handy to fall back on a few quid, to console myself.

Here’s what happened: at about 8pm, after a 12-hour-day, I decided it was time to leave the office and, as I walked calmly (and exhausted) to the lift, I entered it, tripped over and ended up hanging on the lapels of the £3k suit belonging to the COMPANY’S BIGGEST BOSS. 

(Still hanging on to the lapels) the only witty thing I could come up with was: “What can I say? I obviously work too hard”, thinking inwardly: I have just ticked rule 6. 

The big boss, a very alpha person, graciously smirked and helped me up, dusted himself off and kept a dignified silence until the end of the lift journey.


I said something like: “If I have ruined your suit, let me know.  My dry cleaners have the best tailor in town, she can mend everything. She patched up my friend’s vintage corset in no time. It had been ripped in pieces but she managed to put it back together”


“The tailor, not my friend”


“Not that I am suggesting that your suit is like a vintage corset. Nor that I wanted to rip it apart. In fact my friend had an accident, it was all very innocent”

Alpha silence, Olympic calm.

The bell rang, the lift had plummeted to the ground floor, as had my alpha points.

Next day my boss told me I must never, ever, ever approach or talk to senior management in a lift or anywhere else unless I was spoken to.

True to my beta-ness, I tried to see the funny side, so I cracked the following joke: “Shall I make eye contact, if they talk to me”

My boss, a good man, but one who would not recognise irony, if it tickled him, considered this point and informed me, via e-mail: “Eye contact would be ok.”

I roared with laughter with my best friends for a whole week afterwards. I passed my annual appraisal, but I was not promoted.

Moral of the story: I am not sure I have one, but if you are someone who sees the funny side in any situation, like to laugh at yourself (and have good reasons too), sometimes indulge in temptation, do not always look your best, can sometimes use your sense of humour not in your best interest, are not great at flirting, make people laugh without even trying,  are a little irreverent, are not a natural leader, make a lot of mistakes (but  promptly apologise), CONGRATULATIONS: YOU ARE A BETA PERSON.

You may not be a captain of industry, you may very well not become the next Doris Lessing, or Richard Branson or Marie Curie, you may never drive a Lamborghini or fill the room with your presence, but you will never be short of things to laugh about!

So, come on, stand tall & proud and repeat after me: I am beta, I am beta, I am beeetttaaa. Je suis beta, ich bin beta,

sono beta, soy beta, ana beta!! 

It’s not all bad! The main character in my first novel: Auntie Rita (Auntie Rita is Coming to London) is a beta person, but boy, she is shrewd!

Have a GREAT WEEKEND, everyone: alpha, betas and gammas too!


Want to know more about my book? Shoot me an e-mail: marellaalbion@outlook.com