Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

Schoolgirls: A class act?

Gail Walker, Belfast Telegraph

What on earth are Methodist College schoolgirls doing on the front pages of all the tabloids? Sheer black stockings, micro skirts, high heels, pouts, er, school ties... jeepers.

Bad enough they totter around Belfast looking like a take-off of the old saucy schoolgirl joke, and delighting dads everywhere (except, one assumes, their own).

Oh, hold on. It's not Methody's finest, but Girls Aloud, tarted up as St Trinian's schoolgirls for a new movie. So, that's alright then.

But you wonder if those Methody girls realise just how celebrated they have become?

Absolutely everyone talks about them. Particularly men.

Protestant men like to get a gander, but Catholic men will assert there is the added frisson of them being - or at least a fair chance of them being - Protestant grammar schoolgirls.

"Peace process or not, it adds a nice wee edge to it," one told me.

(And before I get letters from outraged Catholic schoolgirls, saying 'what about us?', I hear the same thing from Protestant men about convent schoolgirls.)

The manicured grounds of Botanic Gardens? The fine looking Lanyon Building at Queen's University? The excellent choice of restaurants?

No, what leaves the greatest impression on visitors to the south side of the city is invariably the long, sheer-clad legs of a passing schoolgirl.

"What's that all about?" blokes ask. "I've never seen anything like it, though I'll be back on University Road around 4pm tomorrow - 4pm the best time, you reckon? - just to make sure my eyes weren't deceiving me."

You wonder do these girls get away with it in the classroom.

Is it all a bit like the Police song Don't Stand So Close To Me, with hapless sirs beginning to shake and cough ("just like that bloke in that book by Nabokov")?

In the gym, is it just like Britney's Hit Me Baby One More Time video, where she cavorts, all doe eyes and glossy lips in her uniform?.

Or are they packed into the loos as the bell tolls for morning classes, rolling down the waistbands of their skirts, and slipping into a pair of clumpy flat shoes?

Of course, not all girls attending Methody attempt the 'hot babe in a uniform' look.

The vast majority of them just seem to wear their uniform as intended.

But - and correct me if I'm wrong - 10-denier stockings and high heels do seem to be a phenomenon peculiar to this school.

Yes, you always see a few girls from other establishments attempting to add a little oomph to the old navy or brown or maroon skirt and sweater combo, but it never ends up like anything on this scale.

Maybe it's because they seem to be restricted to heavy opaque tights, which while very fashionable this season, don't always look so great teemed with regulation shoes.

It's bewildering, really.

Teenage girls have always struggled to 'improve' and adapt their unflattering uniforms. But Girls Aloud, now all in their 20s, running around in stockings and suspenders and school-ties, with their hair in bunches?

What's that really all about?

It's a bit like the era of Baby Spice in the Spice Girls, another grown woman with her hair in pigtails, innocent and sexual at the same time, and all very dubious indeed.

It's one thing to be a harmless tonic for the dads, but where does this type of thing stop?

Nip into quite a few newsagents' shops and have a look at the top shelf.

There among the Playboys and the Razzles, will be Barely Legal or Girls in Uniform. (And, I don't think I am risking too much to hazard a guess that school uniforms often feature in that publication).

Is it really ok for a 40-year-old married man to be leering at schoolgirls on the street or pretend schoolgirls on the silver screen?

Undoubtedly, the new film will have the girls up to 'saucy' antics, which will fuel some anorak's sad fantasies.

But isn't there also a more sinister aspect?

In the same papers that featured Nicola, Kimberley and Cheryl in their uniforms under gleeful headlines like 'It Shouldn't Be Allowed', there are stories about young girls going missing with older men, and debates about bringing in Sarah's Law to keep an eye on paedophiles.

I'm sure it's all just coincidental.



Blinding truth

I've rarely seen eye to eye on anything with gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, but I have to applaud his recent statements about Zimbabwe and the degenerate regime of Robert Mugabe.

Says Tatchell: "Robert Mugabe has murdered more black Africans than the entire South African apartheid regime. A black state murdering black citizens does not apparently merit the same outrage as a white state murdering black citizens."

I know that Mugabe has had some crazy things to say about homosexuals, but Tatchell still deserves praise for his courage in speaking a truth which, I suspect, many of his natural liberal-left constituency just simply don't want to hear.

Evil is colour blind and so should be those who condemn it.

Up in the air

Trust British Airways to always manage to shoot itself in the foot ...

It seems that the firm has been doctoring its in-flight films - in Casino Royale a cameo appearance of Virgin boss Richard Branson mysteriously disappears and the Virgin logo on the tail of a plane has been tampered with.

Not getting a tiny bit paranoid, lads, are we?

Let's hope that BA don't start showing the old 70s Airport films. If they do, you can expect absolutely no problems with the plane ... but the boat will sink.

The rude truth

Robbie Williams claims he likes living in LA because he is rarely recognised there.

And just to put the seal on his American privacy he plans to release no more records in the US - just in case he becomes as famous there as the rest of the world.

There's a simpler solution than that, Robbie. Just keep on releasing records like Rudebox and you'll be able to walk down any British street without being mobbed by fans.

Outraged music lovers, maybe, but not by fans ...

This just M&S, Bryan...

So the master of ultrachic, Bryan Ferry has landed himself in a bit of hot water by saying that while he is, like, appalled by the atrocities, naturally, he really digs some aspects of Nazi aesthetics like the architecture of Albert Speer and the films of Leni Riefenstahl.

Oh those crazy Nazi cats with their cool styles! Pity about all that talk about living space and racial purity.

Mind you, it gives Bryan a whole new range of clothes to flog from M&S.

Jackboots ... by M&S. Armbands ... by M&S. And, of course, Casual Brown Shirts ... by M&S. Or perhaps one of those special ads with long lingering lines of groovily attired SS stormtroopers: "This isn't just totalitarianism ... this is M&S totalitarianism."

No, somehow I don't see the Jewish-founded firm buying it, either.

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