Jayne Dawson: Why we all need a reminder that not everyone is as beautiful as George Clooney

The former Yorkshire Post Newspapers headquarters at night.
The former Yorkshire Post Newspapers headquarters at night.
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I’m not what you would call a pub person, but that’s beside the point. Not many of us are these days.

I still find myself glad that 20 extra pubs across the UK have being given listed status, meaning that a person has to ask permission before touching a hair on their pretty little head, sort of thing.


Because actually these pubs are not pretty. They were all built between the wars, and a lot of them were pretending to be what they were not, even back then. They feature fake beams, plastic panels, imitation ancient fireplaces. These places were aping Tudor manors when they were thrown up in the ‘20s, ‘30s and ‘40s.

They have shelves full of Toby jugs on display, walls full of horse brasses. Thier floors are covered in swirly carpets, all the better to hide the stains, their tables are marked and their stools are on the practical but ugly side. Some of them feature games machines and jukeboxes, guaranteed to make a place look naff.

Which is what makes their listed status such welcome news. Because these pubs - sadly none in this area although we have many that could qualify - represent a little slice of real life back then, which was seldom beautiful. And they are a microcosm of life at the time too - one of them was the first to have a purpose built women’s toilet, which tells you everything you need to know about the changed lives of women. So though I have always preferred a nice coffee bar myself, I applaud this decision to save the mundane.

It is always a mistake to only hang on to the beautiful, I think. And I speak with experience having worked for many years in the old Yorkshire Post building on Wellington Street in Leeds.

That was a monstrosity of a building, everyone agreed. It’s ugliness could take your breath away. Only the former Bradford and Bingley Building Society home in Bradford came anywhere close for sheer eyeball-searing brutality. In fact, I think that one just edged it, especially when it was covered in plastic ivy in a misguided attempt of soften the blow of its uncompromising looks.

Along with the now demolished Leeds International Swimming Pool and the forever-being-renovated Inner Ring Road in the city - these buildings appeared in that short period when concrete was king.

The slums were being razed and tall, unadorned concrete things were rising at the rate of about a mile a minute, like bindweed in summer. It happened all over the country but few of them remain now. Councils tended to knock down anything they owned from that era as fast as they could, as if it was a shameful episode.

But I find that attitude daft. Just like the pubs that have now been protected, these buildings told us something about the way we lived, about ourselves and our history. I miss them

To get rid of the ugly stuff is a bit like only keeping pictures of the beautiful people. Can you imagine if only photographs of Kate Moss and Cara Delevingne and George Clooney and David Tennant were allowed to remain behind for future generations and aliens from other planets to examine? I was wondering whether to include man-of-the-moment Benedict Cumberbatch there but , since it is generally agreed he looks like an attractive version of an otter, I don’t think he could be saved for posterity.

What a false impression that would create. The rest of us with our imperfect looks, our big noses, crooked teeth, fat thighs, thin hair, spotty complexions and all the rest, would be made invisible. But we might be the very ones to find the cure for dementia, cancer and heart disease. Ugly has its uses.

Those fake-Tudor suburban pubs with their drab lighting, their dark, depressing bars and their poky little rooms have their uses too - they tell us about ordinary people and ordinary lives.

And one of the things they tell us is that life in many ways has got better and more stylish since those days - and that is a point worth making.

It’s a statement designed to make any woman spring into action - if only to clobber somebody.

Part of the reason we are getting bigger as the years go by is that we do less housework than we used to. This is not me talking, I’m just the messenger. The research was done by universities in Manchester and London.

They worked out that women spend 20 per cent less time on chores than they did in the early 1980s. Since a task like mopping the floor uses up 200 calories an hour, or a very small bar of chocolate as I like to think of it, we are using fewer calories on everyday tasks, and therefore piling on the pounds.

That’s that then.

The problem with research like this is that there really is nowhere to go with it. The fact that women spend less time donkey-stoning the doorstep doesn’t mean they have easier lives than previous generations. Women are more sedentary because we are busier than ever. We spend more time at work and when we are not sitting at a desk we are sitting in cars - driving to the supermarket, the school, the childminder, the after school club.

The busier we become the less time we have to do things that involve actually moving - exercise can feel like a luxury.

So much so that housework sometimes seems like an attractive option compared with everything else women need to achieve - but there just isn’t time to indulge in a bit of aerobic dusting.

This column is not a place for anything even remotely vulgar so I haven’t mentioned manspreading before, mainly because I didn’t know there was such a word.

But now it has entered the online Oxford Dictionary I think it may be okay to discuss this irritating male practice.

In case you haven’t been keeping up “manspreading” is when men sit with legs unnecessarily wide apart.

It is a posture presumably designed to tell the world that they are alpha males, the sort of blokes who mustn’t be made angry..

It happens on buses, on trains, in cinemas and in meetings.

If you are the unlucky women sitting in the next seat, it means you have to make yourself as small and compact as possible so as not to make physical contact with alpha male.

You literally become the little woman sitting next to the big man.

This is annoying, so I’m going to make a plea.

Please don’t do this men, it takes up our space. And more than that, it advertises to the world that you are an idiot. Okay?