I have the vague yet com­fort­ing sen­sa­tion that a teddy bear has been stitched into my chest. I love it

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - REAL LIFE - Anne.gildea@mailon­sun­

I said I wasn’t go­ing to men­tion it again — my new (fake) boob (the foob). I have to, be­cause this week I met a reader who said she wasn’t clear, with my last col­umn, if I was say­ing I had ac­tu­ally burned it or was just sug­gest­ing that any­one with a new foob could — so be care­ful. Well, yes, I did de­liver a rather large, bad burn in­jury to my­self. So, a warn­ing to any­one hav­ing a re­con­struc­tion: re­mem­ber, you have NO feel­ing in that new breast.

Mine has the vague sen­sa­tion of a teddy bear hav­ing been stitched into my chest. It’s like I’ve a big com­fort­ing lump of toy stuff­ing where for­merly was just the flat mas­tec­tomy scar. I love it: it’s weird, but a ‘happy’ weird com­pared to the can­cer re­minder of what was there. As re­gards the look of it, it’s been com­pletely ban­daged over for the last few weeks, be­cause of the burn and be­cause I’ve had an on­go­ing is­sue with a thing called skin necro­sis on the un­der­side: ba­si­cally, a lar­gish strip of the skin trans­planted from my stom­ach hasn’t taken. It’s dead, or dy­ing, and the body is form­ing new skin tis­sue be­neath — fin­gers crossed. I peek at it when the ban­dages are changed and over­all I’d call the look of the breast zom­bie spe­cial ef­fects. It’s a shocker. And that’s an un­der­state­ment. I read some­where that you should think of the re­con­struc­tion as a process — I’m only at the be­gin­ning of that process. The plas­tics team in St James’s Hos­pi­tal are very re­as­sur­ing and I’ve had to take a chill pill about th­ese ex­tra hic­cups and ad­di­tional pos­si­ble in­ter­ven­tions (i.e. surgery or skin grafts) that may be in­volved. I’m still un­am­bigu­ously, 100 per cent happy I had this op­er­a­tion. A lot of which has to do with that ex­cel­lent hos­pi­tal, it has to be said.

I was tweet­ing about the whole thing, un­til my tiny tweet pics ended up very much larger in a few news­pa­pers, and I thought no. This isn’t right. So I stopped. Your boobs, even if it’s just the med­i­cal re­al­ity of your new foob, shouldn’t be plas­tered huge every­where.

Chang­ing the sub­ject: isn’t that right, Rihanna? Thank good­ness her O2 con­cert is fi­nally done with, and all those big, brazen, bare-boob posters of the en­ter­tainer will dis­ap­pear. It wasn’t the bare­ness, so much as the con­fronta­tional mien on her face that went with it, I found ob­jec­tion­able. I don’t want my nine-year-old niece, or any other lit­tle girls, see­ing such im­ages of fe­male­ness. It was hard not to see them, and Rihanna be­ing a hand­some su­per­star, her im­age has added in­flu­ence and im­pact. There was a tiny bit of mod­esty in the poster im­age, of course — a strate­gi­cally placed el­bow pre­serv­ing it over one breast, a word splat­tered over the other for the same ef­fect: Un­apolo­getic. Rihanna en­tered the con­scious­ness of some­one like me when she made head­lines by be­ing beaten to a pulp by her then boyfriend, Chris Brown, whom she sub­se­quently left, got back with, was go­ing to marry, and now isn’t talk­ing to.

Hey, Rihanna, I couldn’t help think­ing, ev­ery time I saw the hideous neo-porn of that poster, that the no­tion of apol­ogy or oth­er­wise in your pub­lic nar­ra­tive shouldn’t lie with you. It should be the pre­serve of some­one else. Guess who. He who seems to have gar­nered more than a lit­tle mar­ket­ing ku­dos out of be­ing a woman-beater. How about you find and ex­press strength in other ways, be­gin­ning with putting some clothes on when you flog your mu­si­cal wares?

As fairy tales, com­mon ex­pec­ta­tion, and even the good old nuns would have told you, women who re­spect them­selves, re­main fully dressed in pub­lic, are well-turned- out, man­nerly, po­litely spo­ken, fem­i­nine, so­phis­ti­cated and a dab hand at turn­ing out tea for two, or four cour­ses for 20, are the type that de­serve and get the crème de la crème of men. And, if Fate be­stows, they are ad­di­tion­ally beau­ti­ful, well-bred, tal­ented, fa­mous and pos­sessed of a self-know­ing sense of hu­mour to add fiz­zle to their con­ver­sa­tion... well, the fine gen­tle­men they fi­nally set­tle for will likely be just that — fine and gen­tle.

a chap whose idea of em­pha­sis­ing a point is to grab you by the neck like you’re a turkey and Christ­mas is com­ing. What a shocker that was. He might be an art col­lec­tion, a zil­lion­aire, a pil­lar of the es­tab­lish­ment, but, boy, what a thug. In my fem­i­nista reimag­in­ing of the se­quence of pho­tos of Nigella and Charles that ap­peared every­where, at the end she dips into her hand­bag, her hand emerges with a boxing glove and she biffs him a hook that knocks him side­ways while ob­serv­ing (on­look­ers later re­vealed), ‘Don’t you ever dare do that again… you OAP bully.’ That’s what I would call ac­cept­able con­fronta­tion.

Fi­nally, have to squeeze in a quick word about Kim K and Kanye West’s baby name. A girl called North, sur­name West? North West. My first thought? When she grows up, she can pass the name on, call her child North, by North West; then, I was think­ing, it’s a bit like if Rosanna Dav­i­son had a child and called her Har­ley, or Anne Doyle had a boy and called him Bal, or you know — you could go on and on with this, if you hadn’t reached the end for this week…

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