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Clare's Café Highlights w/c 2 April

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Clare English Clare English | 16:13 UK time, Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Mad Men...they're all over the place - on our tv screens, in the press, on billboards. Usually those two words elicit sighs from women who lust after Don Draper with his super stylish clothes, laconic delivery, devil may care way with martini cocktails and all the rest.

Mad Women. Mmmm...I see a problem. Yes, they're often attractive, perhaps they like a martini cocktail or two and they can dress well but frankly, they're a bit, well, MAD, aren't they. Unhinged, hysterical, crazy, bonkers - especially those birds in 19th century novels. St Andrew's Dr Sarah Dillon has picked up on this lazy caricature and run with the ball; she joined me for the Book Cafe to talk about an event being run at the Science Festival in Edinburgh called MADWOMEN IN THE ATTIC to discuss whether the likes of Flaubert's Madame Bovary, Wilkie Collins' Woman in White and Bertha Rochester from Bronte's Jane Eyre, were actually mad.... or misunderstood.

The very term MAD WOMEN is pejorative and provocative because it depends on WHO decides who is mad and how extreme their behavior is. Is it MAD to be feisty, difficult, demanding, self assured, self obsessed? What about sexually liberated? If we look through our 21st century goggles, many of the female figures of the 19th century literary look perfectly normal, almost homely. It's a fascinating area for debate and discussion so Dr Dillon looked sure to draw a crowd at her event. What I want to know is, will there be a sequel MADMEN IN THE ATTIC event next year? Plenty of candidates!

It's not my idea of fun but I know a few people who positively LOVE sharing their photos and thoughts with relative strangers digitally. Clearly I am in the minority. On Tuesday's Culture Cafe I learnt that the President of the United States is hooked on a new craze called PINTEREST. It's a virtual pin board.. basically an online scrap book where postings of photos, recipes and other sundry items can be put up for everyone to admire. Mr Obama's keen on politically themed memorabilia (a surprise, eh?) and his dog. I was more surprised to see my own husband's postings on PINTEREST- didn't even know he had joined up! Our dog featured, and there was a fetching self portrait of said husband as well as a rather arbitrary (I thought) image of a huge Hawaiian wave. No images of our daughter. Or me. Or his mother. What is the point? Why are 10 million Americans hooked on this craze? How long before the 200,000 fans in Britain turn into millions? We needed answers and we got some from virtual pinner (as in pin board) Mark Johnstone. He was joined by an old style scrap book obsessive, Janine O'Rourke who'd never tried PINTEREST. Mark was positively evangelical, pointing out the fun to be had posting infinite funny, lovely, touching pictures on a site where you INVITED people to look at your display. That invitation was part of the problem for Janine who said she needed that before she could even try the thing out. Within seconds (it's live radio remember!) my production team were checking the veracity of that claim out and they came back to me with some show stopping news. YOU DONT HAVE TO BE INVITED onto the PINTEREST site. You can just wing it - type in your details...and the next day, Bob's your uncle and you can stick his mug shot on your new virtual pin board. I have one question...well, two actually. Why would you want to do this? And when do these people get the time to organize their photos let alone their lives??!!

I DO get Zombies; they appeal to me at some deep, dark, adolescent level. Ever since taking my two nephews to Glasgow's Arches in the late 80's for a reality game called Alien World, I've loved the idea of being chased about from room to room by people in costumes.( Is this wrong??) The nephews are still traumatized by the experience but what's not to love about this kind of activity? You sweat like a race horse (burnt calories = more cake capacity ), get terrified and mainline on pure adrenalin (like live broadcast but with more security) and, in the process you get to have a brilliant laugh watching how everyone around you is losing it. Well, imagine my joy when I was told about an event in Glasgow called 2.8 Hours Later- based on an online game but transferred literally onto the streets of Glasgow. The first session in March went v well and another is planned for April. Herald journo and broadcaster Graeme Virtue agreed to check it out for us; his mission was simple. Avoid being attacked by zombies marauding around the city centre. Contestants were supplied with a map and told to run like hell if they spotted the undead approaching. Cue chaos, fear and a fair bit of giggling. Graeme told us how one female gamer ran into the middle of a gaggle of lady shoppers, seeking sanctuary. She begged these sisters of mercy to hide her and they stood around her for a moment or two. But as soon as the zombie showed up, they broke apart and turned her over! Never interrupt a group of grannies on a shopping trip.

Jenna Betts knows the thrill of the chase- she's a self-confessed "double identity" craze addict. This means you'll frequently find her going out incognito (wigs are a necessity!) She told us she hadn't been able to try out 2.8 yet but had vast experience of a variety of reality games played throughout Britain. For a woman on the run most of the time, she sounded well chilled but, evidently she is armed with quick wits and nerves of steel. Zombies are easy to spot but since most reality games assailants aren't giving away any sartorial clues, you have to have a sixth sense about these things. Jenna admitted that she had become quite paranoid on occasion- eyeing people suspiciously on trains and hot tailing it to the loos to fill up the AK47 water gun she relied on for "protection". It all sounds a bit bonkers but you have to admit, it's better than sitting at home, alone, in your pants at a games console or behind a desk, pretending you are in real peril. As for the paranoia...haven't you heard? Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you!


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