«i . Maureen Ellis

here are dynamite moments in Sex and the City that are forever

imprinted on my brain. Like Miranda being given a friend‘s baby to

hold at her own baby shower and promptly seating the tot beside her while reaching for another gift. Like the ever-elegant Charlotte. wankered on the feny from Staten Island. proclaiming that this is the year she will wed. Samantha. the golden tart with the heart. breaking her bolshy facade and weeping. And finally Carrie: the Brazilian . . . to pee or not to pee . . 1’ Oh. where to start with Carrie?

True to fomt. series five begins with another gem. It’s ‘Fleet Week‘ in New York the time when American naval boats converge on the Big Apple for a street party and the girls are invited to a bash packed with tasty. unifonned sailors. ‘God bless America!‘ puns Samantha. Tmly priceless.

How far Sex and the City has come in five years. Series one. episode one set the premise: Carrie and co. while at Miranda‘s birthday party. agree to treat sex like men: to lose the emotional ties and stop worrying about finding that special someone. What followed was the candid exploration of women's sex lives and relationships. Or that was the idea. Granted it shocked and titillated in equal measure. but the inherent warmth took on a life of its own. It exposed and celebrated women‘s friendships and closeness: it demonstrated a bond that everyone knew existed but no one had ever vocalised before or certainly not to this magnitude. It focused more on friendship than Friends.

Look a little closer and the series shouldn‘t work. Really it shouldn‘t. These women aren‘t real women. They've more neuroses than a clinical psychiatry textbook. They swathe themselves in Dior and Donna Karan. they carry Fendi clutches and totter around on Jimmy Choos (wardrobe director Patricia Fields on average arranges a whopping 50 outfits per episode now that's the kind of problem a girl wants). Work is a distraction and brunching is their full-time profession. The men in their lives while typically more dysfunctional than the four protagonists are quirky and interesting. And bloody hell. it's New York. The world's playground. It’s never Queen‘s Park on a rainy Wednesday.

But it works. The sex. the clothes. the men. the places: all accessories which shroud the emotional core from which the series breathes.

And breathe it does. So much so that the series has evolved to take on a lifeforce of its own. How many times have you seen the 'Becks in the city‘ or ‘Text in the city’ tabloid headlines? The series has spawned two books. it has made Manolo Blahnik a household name and has elevated Sarah Jessica Parker to acronym status and made her one of the most

influential woman in America rumour has it she

will run for senate. SJP. the woman previously

best known for a frizzy bonce in Footloose and

her cherubic-faced other half. Matthew

Broderick. There‘s no doubt about it. Sex and the

City is a cultural phenomenon. What started as a tweeish magnification of

promiscuous females has morphed into the

world‘s most influential commentary on modern

women. And you don't just watch the show: you

window-shop the lifestyle. There. behind the

glass. are mannequins of your own friends. They wear nicer clothes. and look different. but the

rudimentary basics of matedom are the same.

Essentially. Sex and the City is Harvey Nicks and your mates are H&M; you love having both. but

which one couldn't you live without?

I We know it‘s fantasy. but that doesn’t stop us holding a Sex and the City mirror up to our own

character traits. That said. most girls would rather

admit to farting in bed than confessing to the

‘which character is she?’ daydream. but it happens subconsciously and sometimes vocally. tongues often liberated by a few glasses of wine.

And we're all Carrie at heart. It’s not just her attitude or unrivalled wardrobe or seemingly perfect lifestyle. She is the centripetal force to Samantha. Miranda and Charlotte‘s extremes. Watching their brunch conversations is like watching three sides of the same personality: you’ve got the slutty vamp side. the romantic optimist side and the humorous cynic side. Roll those together with a dash of individuality and voila: Carrie.

There‘s also a sense of validation in watching Sex and the City. Despite their perfect nails. hair and clothes. these women have hang-ups too. Their lives are anything but sorted. an endorsment of the lifestyles of young women today. As Carrie said. the only thing she's ever made in the kitchen ‘is a mess and a couple of little fires’. It delivers a reassuring message: you are not alone.

But life doesn’t always imitate art. While Parker may play the part of the relationship-repellent on screen. the birth of son James and idyllic life with Broderick means series five could her last term in Sex office. A shame. but thanks for the memories.

Sex and the City Night begins on New Year’s Day at 9pm, Channel 4.


Take a bite out the Big Apple with the top 20 places in Glasgow and Edinburgh to live the S&tC lifestyle (only we can’t guarantee you’ll get laid).

Words: Maureen Ellis

l Cocktails at Metropolitan Metropolitan is the new kid on the cocktail block. You. dear readers. voted it the best new bar in Glasgow. Located off the beaten track in the heart of the Merchant City, its only downside is the inevitable girIy-downfall equation: cocktails + heels + cobbles = danger. Metropolitan, Merchant Square. Glasgow, 0147 552 9402.

Edinburgh alternative: Rick's Bar, Frederick Street. 0131 622 7800.

l Shoes at Frasers

The traditional department store boasts the largest shoe department in Britain. Frasers, 27—45 Buchanan Street. Glasgow. 0747 221 3880.

Edinburgh alternative: Harvey Nichols. 30—34 St Andrew Square. 0131 524 8888.

I Dine at Opus From its foreboding black marble facade to the sleek leather interiors and affordable qulon food. Opus is a people- watcher's and people- watched hub.

Opus, 750 St Vincent

12 Dec 2002—2 Jan 2303 THE LIST 19