Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The New Funny Feminists

"Offbeat Empire LLC is a niche lifestyle media network and publisher of awesome, edgy women’s websites covering weddings, parenting, and home decor. Our sites reach hundreds of thousands of women every month, cheerleading readers through the challenging transitions in their lives."

Don't you love the word "edgy"? Now imagine an edgy wedding, the bride with dyed red bed hair, perhaps. "Rocking" some Doctor Martens. "Rocking" some armpit hair. The Cure's Friday I'm in Love accompanying her walk up the aisle. She's knowing she's a new feminist, banishing the depressing days of women dressing just to please men, all started by the evil Spice Girls, though "Wannabe was a great tune".

The bride has discovered feminism by reading Caitlin Moran's How to be a Woman. It really opened her eyes and she hasn't looked back. Confident, thrusting, this bride knows what she wants out of life and she's going to get it! And there's her sexy young indie husband-to-be, on the starting blocks for a lifetime of love, laughs, alcohol, beautiful babies and edgy furnishings.

This article from the aforementioned website has today been applauded on Twitter by Caitlin, Grace Dent and India Knight. The new breed of "funny" feminists, the funniest women writers since French and Saunders. They've been bullied on Twitter by these liberals who are on the right political side but are so bitter about the celebrities' success that they cannot but help themselves pick up on the smallest misunderstood tweet and get on their high horse about it. These little people are not interested in discourse, just in shouting down the successful.

Of course "progressive activists" such as the new "funny" feminists should be supported by all us liberals "in their very important work for social justice" whether it be in The Times or The Independent.

Laughter is the best medicine for society's ills and anybody who doesn't find these writers funny is holding back the struggle.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

How Do I Do This Again?

I'm sure you're all very interested in how I'm doing, so here's a little round robin.

I'm currently working in London two days a week and three days at home. I bought myself a manager's chair for the kitchen. I sit on it and have a panoramic view of the garden and its lone pigeon. But I'm too busy to manage or watch our feathered friend.

I work on my little netbook. It has everything on it. Windows 7 Starter. Microsoft Office For Cheapskates. The hateful Skype.

I listen to the music I have transferred to my iPod. Which is preferable to the music in the office. Other people's music taste has been the bane of my life. You think you're beginning to bond then they put on Green Day.

In my spare time I walk the streets for half an hour, I read and perform Twitter, I read books on my Kindle. Now and again I catch up on the blogs, I always follow links from Twitter to newspaper comment-style articles which could be reduced to a couple of sentences.

As could this round robin. Life is not necessarily better when you're working. But for me, now, after the past few years, it is.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hey Eddie, how come you're such a big hit with the girls?

Eddie Izzard, there. Thinking out of the box. This "can do" attitude, all over the world. People, all over the world, eating well, training hard, thinking out of the box. Changing things politically by going to the gym for five hours a day, pounding the streets, spinning those wheelchair wheels till they think their arms are going to drop off.

A political statement from these can-doers. Come on, people! Get going!

Get out of that armchair, out of that boring job with long hours, get those metal legs running, faster faster faster!

Don't let that lung disease get you down, look at Eddie, godammit he ran 26 marathons a day every day for a year! Think out of the box stop watching the box, you lazy cunt.

Don't complain about being hungry, just look at your golden compatriots, see what they've achieved!

That poor fucker with no legs just got FOUR gold medals, how the fuck can YOU complain about YOUR lot in life?

Saturday, September 08, 2012


I'm currently enjoying The 100 Worst People On Twitter, a necessary antidote to all those awful Famous People To Follow On Twitter you get in the broadsheets.

I say I'm enjoying it, but it's led me to investigate online quarrels, some of them long-standing. This was entertaining at first but now I've had enough.

I don't care any more if The IT Crowd's @Glinner is Twitter's policeman or that he blocked The Lady Magazine's @LFBarfe or that comedy discusser @cookdandbombd and media-recognised blogger @mrsnickyclark are on one side or the other and go on and on and on about it. I'm going to leave them all to it in future. Go ahead and read them if you wish.

And as I'm spreading the love today, here's an absolutely hilarious video including some of those poor celebrities who have to put up with comments from people who think they're shit and get their own back by attacking those few unhinged cancer and rape wishers amongst us.

Friday, August 31, 2012

London Does It Again!

So now we have the Paralympics. It's going to be the best Paralympics ever. Because it's here. That's why it's going to be the best ever.

Politicians have tears of admiration in their eyes for those disabled people who have achieved being on the telly, stretching their bodies to the utmost. The same politicians take away the benefits of those disabled they say are stealing taxpayers' money and really should be working, just look at what can be achieved, look at the examples being set by your fitter brothers and sisters, get off your arse and get a job, come on, put some effort into it you shirking fake!

But as a spectacle, it's really difficult to get worked up about. How can you when you have admiration for every single participant? All athletes perform to the best of their capabilities and you want to see a race where there is a small margin between winners and losers. You want to get behind your man or woman, you desperately want your athlete to beat the rest, you couldn't give a shit if Mary Decker falls over, you think thank fuck for that. You want Great Britain to win a tight, exciting race. If not Britain, you want Jamaica. If not Jamaica, anybody but the USA. We love it when the Americans come just outside the medals. And more than anything we want Ovett to beat Coe.

How can the competitive emotions come to the fore when you're applauding everybody in the race, willing them all to do a personal best? Even Oscar Pistorius as he wins by five miles. Bloody hell, they're all to be admired. Even the Americans and the Tories.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

So Proud, So Very, Very Proud


I don't want to piss on anybody's chips but...

Let's have a look at the amounts of funding from UK Sport for the 2012 Olympics.

Surprise surprise rowing gets the most money followed by surprise surprise cycling.

Both events need expensive equipment, £20,000 per boat, £20,000 per bike.

Neither rowing nor cycling are mass participant sports. You can imagine the schools that have rowing clubs! And you can imagine the kids whose parents can't afford to buy them a decent racing bike let alone the kids having the space to ride in safety.

How many non-white athletes have Great Britain in these sports? Surely there would be one or two with the body for rowing, the body for cycling?

The next time somebody says "if only footballers were like our great Olympians," you know where to tell them to stick their words.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Opening Medicine

Everybody loved it. I had glowing reports beforehand from people who'd seen or been involved in the dress rehearsals and when the time came for the actual televisual feast, Twitter was awash with pride.

This was Britain at its best, the stuff that makes us all proud to be part of the greatest nation on earth. Boris Johnson was crying "hot tears of patriotic pride".

Frank Cottrell Boyce in today's Observer: "We shared the things we loved about Britain - the Industrial Revolution, the digital revolution, the NHS, pop music, children's literature, genius engineers."

Two capitalist revolutions, an underfunded health service, the Eurythmics, Mary fucking Poppins and Jeremy Clarkson's hero.

We are proud of our multi-culturalism, well some of "us" think it was right that we accepted people we owed something to, most don't think we owe "them" anything and would like it if "they" went back "home".

Great Ormond Street is a symbol of how we look after our people from the cradle to the pub. We love children more than any other nation and the image of a child in a hospital bed makes us weep with pride and empty our wallets. And all our Mary Poppins's, looking after our precious ones who will grow up to employ nannies of their own.

The night of the ceremony, Boris Johnson had a sweet dream, a sweet wet dream about Julie Andrews tucking him up in bed, bending over him, whispering, "it's going to be alright, everything's going to turn out right".

And he woke up laughing at Mr Bean.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Sea Air Will Do Us Good

Looking at the Jack Vettriano poster on the wall of the hospital corridor, just around the corner from the curled-up photographs of nurses, haphazardly arranged in a large smeared frame, I'm waiting for my mum to be made more comfortable three weeks after her life-prolonging operation.

I never used to tell my mum I love her. Now I say it every time we speak. It's not really a thing a boy of my generation and class does easily. It took me years to kiss her goodbye.

What the fuck are you singing? Are you a human vox-box of tricks, a servile Bobby McFerrin? Listeners can't help but dance? Don't worry, be happy?

Why are these beautiful young posh people dancing on the beach in the rain, in formal party clothes? Has the maid brought their medication? Or their booze? Is one of them ill and this is their last dance before amputation? What have you always really wanted to do? Dance in the rain by the sea, with a gruff-voiced butler and a silly fussing maid. One last dance before the hospital bed. Splash and move, more free than we've ever been. Darling, I love you and your unpredictable movement, the wet-dog animality of you. I'll miss your drunken larks when you've got no legs.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Jimmy Carr

I'd have more respect for Jimmy Carr if he'd stuck it out. Cameron said it was "morally wrong". The cunt - his government is morally wrong.

It's become a matter of individual responsibility. A naughty celebrity doing something that's legal but frowned upon. Frowned upon by all right-thinking people who "do the right thing". Individual responsibility to be a good person.

And those who don't "do the right thing"? Frowned upon. Naughty boys and girls, the cheek of them! How can they live with themselves? Still, it's their choice, the cheeky monkeys! You've got to admire their gall!

But those who "do the right thing" can live with themselves. If you work hard and pay your taxes you can feel good about yourself. And there may be a little reward in Heaven for you.

Won't that be worth it?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Punk Britannia

Punk. Changed things, didn't it? Had its roots in pub rock - small venues, small crowds.

Did I ever tell you about the Pistols gig at Manchester Free Trade Hall?

The kids had nothing. There were all these boring old farts making boring old music for boring old people. There was no future.

The kids picked up their guitars. They taught themselves a chord, another chord, another chord. One, two, three.

The kids had something and nothing would be the same again.

The UK was rubble and rubbish. Bleak, boring. Grim, grey. The kids had nothing. They had nothing to lose.

Then the kids had something. They had nothing, then they had something. Three chords. A synthesiser. One finger. One finger to the establishment.

Nothing. Nothing to lose. Something.

No future. A future.

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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Work Till You Drop?

"But what if you don't want to work at 81? What if you have to to pay the bills?" asked Fiona Foster in this ITV Tonight special.

But they all did want to work. What would they do otherwise? Sit and stare at four walls? Vegetate? Work gives them a purpose. It gets them out of the house. And besides, how will they pay the mortgage?

We are living longer. 65 is the new 30. The elderly have not only a wealth of experience, but an excess of energy. We are not losing our braincells like previous generations. We are fit for the job.

But what about the young? If we're retiring later, how will those leaving school and university get a foot on the career ladder?

No worries. The elderly with all their energy, experience and brain power will create new jobs. They will work for themselves. Dare I say it, they could well be the entrepreneurs of the future.

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Thursday, June 07, 2012

Just Imagine...

The papers are over it like a rash. He has been having a torrid, exciting new affair at work, his wife found out and kicked him into touch.

"It is his business," says the company, desperate to keep the scandal behind closed doors. They do not want publicity, oh no.

Then imagine...

A man with influence in a company employs an old friend to work with him. The job is created just for her as there was no such job before.

Just an idea for a story I've got.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, May 25, 2012

If All You Ever Do Is Business...

I've just read Francis Beckett's The Great City Academy Fraud which describes how New Labour passed the running of schools not to big businesses as was originally envisaged but to entrepreneur car dealers, religious nutters and property developers. So instead of millions of pounds of investment from future employers, all kinds of creeps were able to pay peanuts to expel troublesome kids, massage GCSE results and get Norman Foster to design buildings made for the world class business of world class education in a world class country. All paid for by the taxpayer.

Our local school recently became an academy and this is the bloke who the kids I see during the week are grateful to. He seems like a nice man with none of the business bullshit you'd expect.

Doesn't it make you want to be young again?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

London is for Lovers

I'm getting used to travelling on the tube. All the lonely people, where do they all come from?

But there are dating agency ads on the tube, tempting London's young singletons, London's young heterosexual graduate professionals. Mr or Ms Right may be sitting beneath this ad, but without us you wouldn't know. And who talks to strangers on the tube, anyway? Nutters, that's who!

The ads are about presenting yourself for your date. Women wonder which pair of shoes would be suitable, not too high, not too low. Men wonder which colour shirt to wear, the blue or the white one, definitely not pink.

"Not the pink one," said Harry.

Last week I noticed the facial hair one. This one's not for the women, apparently.

There is a picture of a razor and shaving brush. And the question for this chap is when would be the right time to shave before his date.

He doesn't want to be clean-shaven. That would suggest a lack of wildness, a boring conversationalist, a predictable lover.

He doesn't want a beard. A beard denotes a lack of interest in self-betterment, a "take me for what I am" attitude, a lazy lover.

No, what he wants is "just the right amount" of stubble. Not a five o'clock shadow, not a three day growth. Just the right amount to make a good impression, to make the lady feel immediately comfortable yet strangely intrigued. Just the right amount to create an air of mystery, yet thoughtful, caring, a responsive and pro-active lover, a giver yet knowing when to take, a protective, manly man, yet a certain vulnerability, a tamed wildness with an appetite for life, sophisticated yet not easily compartmentalised, a no-bullshit yet professional and controlled man with a mind of his own, knowing where he is going with everything to offer to the right woman.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


I must admit I've never read anything by Giles Coren except for his recent tweets. He shouldn't come within my radar. He writes for The Times which I have never read and won't pay money to read in the future. He appears on television in programmes with Sue Perkins who I have never seen on television for more than 30 seconds without changing channels.

So without ever having read any of his "work", why did I refer to him as being a "piss poor columnist" on Twitter this week? It seems a little unfair. I should at least have made the effort to...

Wait a minute! I did get a book of his out of the library once. It was about his anger at things. It was boring. He was boring.

So in the back of my mind I've got this impression that Giles Coren is boring. Just a memory of being bored one day for about ten minutes. For ten minutes of my life I was bored by Giles Coren.

I didn't really need for that ten minutes to take on the significance it has. But for the past few days I've been obsessed with what people have been saying about him on Twitter. And what he's been saying. I've even contributed myself, calling him a sexist and a piss poor columnist. I said this because he called a woman a "barren old hag" and because he bored me silly once for ten minutes.

He didn't offend me, after all. He offended somebody I'm not the least bit interested in. Another journalist I've no interest in reading anything by. And Twitter is full of people making sexist, racist and all sorts of offensive comments to other people.

But that boring ten minutes keeps coming back to haunt me. It's like a bloke I met the other week who now works where I used to work. I spoke to him for maybe five minutes and it was the most boring five minutes of my life. And now he's there, too. In the back of my mind. Gnawing away.

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Quiet. The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

First of all, thanks to Bob for alerting me to the book and for the review here which should give you the impetus to go out and get it.

I saw a hell of a lot of myself in the book. I have spent a lifetime trying to avoid situations made for extroverts. I really cannot bear gatherings of more than a few people and the idea of pretending to be a social butterfly makes me feel like a lost boy. I spent 17 years till last June in my own tiny office, shutting the door at lunchtime, only communicating with individual people when I had to or when I wanted a bit of a chat.

Now I'm in an open plan office, people in front of me, behind me and to the side of me. There is music and talk. I try to shut them all out and concentrate on my work but it's hard. I've luckily discovered a nice quiet cafe where I can go to lunch to recharge from the overstimulation of the office. I'm so glad I'm only working there three days a week.

The book is well worth reading but...

It is the concentration on the success stories, the find yourself a career you are most suited to, the whatever your interest is, keep to it, study it to be the best at it you can, the presumption that you are a deep-feeling, deep-thinking special person, that we all have something to contribute because there is something out there for everyone, that there are opportunities if you choose correctly and you study hard because you are damned clever and don't rush into things and there are so many introvert success stories who are the best at what they do because they are introverts.

Maybe there is another book to be written about how being an introvert in an extrovert world can fuck you up and make you think life is not worth living, maybe those of us who don't have the right stuff and never had an interest in anything that could make us money.

I have been lucky, I have been able to cope and I've been able to earn money in spite of my quietness, lucky to have worked for a firm for many years that valued diligent work which didn't need great intelligence or a degree in bullshit.

Anyway, power to Obama the introvert and his eradication of poverty in the good old US of A.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


"Historian Dominic Sandbrook takes us on an eye opening journey into Britain in the 1970s." Well, not really eye-opening. Same old shit, really. And Dominic was born in 1974 and now lives in Chipping Norton so what the fuck does he know about the 70s or your ordinary person? People wanted more in the 70s and they got it. They bought and decorated their own homes, they took foreign holidays, taking their food and drink with them. But they also discovered wine and sexy shortarse Spanish waiters. The Heath Government privatised Thomas Cook and Lunn Poly and the miners, furious that the holidays they couldn't afford had been sold off, brought the Government down. The working class Marc Bolan wore make up so miners grew their hair and David Bowie made bisexuals attractive to teenage girls. Edward Heath took us into Europe and let in those hordes of Asians who had been kicked out of Uganda. There were street demonstrations protesting about the influx and about Heath's French accent. Said Asians and thousands of London's financially cleansed white working class moved to Peterborough. Peterborough was the soul of the 70s.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

It's Not As Easy As It Used To Be

I was out with some middle aged women friends of mine the other evening, listening to stories from lives I cannot contemplate.

Hearing all about the Moulin Rouge themed hen night, the cab driver's reaction to having such a break from the norm, or was this the norm for a Saturday night?

They were fifteen women and one man, a gay man, good-looking ("why are they always so good-looking? It's such a waste").

"Was he camp?" I said, winding her up.

"Oh no, he was well-built, all-man. You would never tell from looking at him."

And that is how things are nowadays, you can't tell from looking at people.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Standing on the Shoulders of the Jolly Green Giant

Noel Gallagher's interview by Mark Lawson was not just an advert for his Low Flying Pigeons project, oh no. Lawson got to the heart of the man.

Gallagher didn't exactly have the most advantageous of upbringings, beaten by his dad and not in the least inspired by school.

But Lawson wanted to get to the heart of the tragedy of Gallagher's failure to conform.

"And did they used to give you the talk? 'You're obviously a bright boy, you could do something with this.' Or did they just ignore you?"

Of course they didn't give him the talk. It wasn't as if he was a gifted scholar, able to fit in if only he applied himself and stopped hanging around with the wrong sorts. He had no interest whatsoever in any subject. Once he'd learnt to read and write that was it. Everything else was just boring and irrelevant to the future of a working class kid with interests as varied as music and football. And Noel was unique amongst the local lads in that he was actually interested in something other than Man City.

"You could do something with this". With this intelligence you could be middle class. You could learn to take an interest in science or literature, once you get into it they're really fascinating, you know. Your English teacher and your Maths teacher and your Physics teacher are itching to get you enthused. A boy with your intelligence shouldn't waste that intelligence, there are fields of study, vast open fields of knowledge, all you need to do is walk outside and smell the atmosphere, breathe in deeply young man, the world is yours.

But Gallagher didn't answer the question. It was a stupid question to ask. It would have been stupid to ask it of other intelligent men and women who didn't give a stuff about the establishment's stupid subjects. But ask it of a multi-millionaire?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Tweet Revenge

Beautiful, brainy Louise Mensch got a bee in her bonnet yesterday about a Labour councillor's tweet expressing disappointment that Margaret Thatcher hadn't died. Read all about it here in the article Lovely Louise linked to.

When Thatcher eventually pops her clogs I, for one, won't be celebrating. She will be at peace and peace is the last thing I'd wish on her. I want her to suffer invisibly in an NHS hospital corridor, without a bed to go to, watching the nurses and doctors scurrying past, oblivious to her lonely plight.

No, something to celebrate would be the abortion of all potential Tory MPs. Stop the fuckers before they have a chance to breathe their privileged air. But life is sacred to me and once they're born all you can hope is that one day they will suffer as they've made others suffer.

The furore got me thinking of Elvis Costello's Tramp the Dirt Down, which looks to a time when Elvis can "savour" tramping the dirt down on Thatcher's grave, tramping like Joe Strummer does in the video to Rock The Casbah.

I remember feeling very moved by this song at the end of the 80s and a tingle of righteous anger tickled my spine when I saw Elvis perform it live. We were such an angry, ticklish audience.

Of course it would never happen. You couldn't get anywhere near the grave. You couldn't get back at her and even if you were to sneak in the Grantham graveyard one night, pissed as a fart and whoop and holler at the top of your voice, stamping to a rock soundtrack, get arrested by the vicar and transported to a cell, would you really feel any better? Would any of her victims have been avenged?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Can You Hear Me, Mother?

I visited my mum for Smothering Sunday. She's eighty now and concerned about a hospital appointment on Tuesday but the doctor only sent her there because my mum just wants peace of mind. Her sister had a similar investigation a couple of months ago (dodgy bowels run in our family, don't I know it!) and they didn't discover anything and let her watch the procedure on a screen. She asked what the things floating around were. "That's your poo," she was told.

My mum's still in good form, still slagging off everybody but the people she's talking to. Today it was my stepbrother's wife's turn.

"She's in her forties and she totters around on these really high heels on these big slippery tiles, clop clop clop, she's got a really short skirt on that goes out like this then up like this, her waist must be about eighteen inches, although she makes sure everybody else has plenty to eat you never see anything pass her lips and she says hello to you at the beginning of the party then goodbye at the end but ignores you for the rest of the time. She's got a lovely house, the best of everything, she really fell on her feet when she met Dave, he does everything for her, he's really good with his hands and he has to travel to Brighton every day to work but his company have bought him a lovely new white car with four circles on it, he said he wanted five circles to fit in with the Olympics, he was being funny."

Thursday, March 15, 2012

With a Rebel Yell

Here we have a well-meaning article about a supposed protest song. You can watch the video if you like and drink in the angry words. Ooh, he's so angry.

The problem with Plan B is his voice. His is not the voice of the shat-on. His upbringing is comfortable, from Simon Reynolds' liminal class, a lower-middle class/upper-working class classification which has been created to give writers something to write about. It doesn't exist. And it certainly isn't where the so-called "chavs" are. The upper working class look down on the "chavs". The lower middle class try to teach them to give them a chance to make something of themselves, become respected members of society like the upper working class bigots who look down on them.

Plan B isn't going to change anything. He's just going to make loads more money from those poor saps who loved The Prodigy when Keith found his Spitting Image punk voice.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Martin Carr

I am working again, thankfully three days a week, semi-retired. I am away from home for twelve hours each day I go to work. Those days feel very long for a tired old sod like me.

But now I'm up and at 'em, there's more time for reading. I am currently reading Patrick deWitt's brilliant The Sisters Brothers, savouring each short chapter. The book I read before this was Caitlin Moran's How To Be a Woman. To give you some idea of just how likeable Caitlin is, I've filched the following paragraph:

"Whilst motherhood is an incredible vocation, it has no more inherent worth than a childless woman simply being who she is, to the utmost of her capabilities. To think otherwise betrays a belief that being a thinking, creative, productive and fulfilled woman is, somehow, not enough. That no action will ever be the equal of giving birth."

Caitlin is a mother but is a feminist. She believes that all women have the right to determine what they want out of life and go for it. When Caitlin got married, she didn't think it was going to be the best day of her life. She wanted something low key. Her and her mates and her family could treat it like a laugh and get pissed in the pub.

So did she? No, she let herself and her gender down by getting married in a former monastery in Coventry, two days after Christmas. It is a disaster! An absolute disaster!

Caitlin just doesn't cut it as a bride. She is too weird, too indie. Her friends are just too alternative to fit in at such an occasion. The couple's first dance is 'Ask' by The Smiths! Her friend Dave offers some ecstasy to her father-in-law! One bridesmaid is a six foot two gay man! A six foot two gay man! Another bridesmaid is "rocking a tattoo of a dolphin saying 'Fuck'." Literally "rocking" the motherfucker!

So Caitlin is married and starts a family with her special husband and they have a couple of special children. Although her first labour was pretty horrific, she wouldn't have missed it for the world, it made her stronger and there is nothing in this world like that wonderful unconditional love between a mother and her child.

But being a feminist, Caitlin passionately believes what she says in the above excerpt. A "thinking, creative, productive and fulfilled woman" without a child is just as worthy as one with a child. A Caitlin Moran without a child would have been the equal of the Caitlin Moran we see before us now, a Twitter goddess with all those prodigiously creative, hilarious, intelligent, unique middle aged friends who make each other laugh, cry and give the likes of us an insight into the way life can be lived if you really have no bars to your teenage ambitions.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

The Voice Of The Nation

According to the Daily Mail here, in the UK "only 4.8 per cent of people count as ‘materially deprived’, similar to levels in Germany which has 4.5 per cent."

This, of course, means that benefits are too generous. We should have far more than 3 million people 'materially deprived' if we were to consider ourselves a fair nation!

Ignoring the fact that the percentages shown for the countries are pretty similar except for maybe poor old Portugal, the Eurostat statistics show the UK to be "a country where large numbers of people do not work – yet can afford to live as if they earn good money."

The good life, then. What is it?

1. The ability to pay housing, utility and repairs bills
2. The ability to keep warm in the winter
3. The ability to get enough protein in your diet
4. The ability to wash your clothes at home
5. The ability to watch a colour TV in your own home

Mobile phones, cars and holidays are out of reach for those who earn good money. Or you could have one of these if you forgo one of the five above.

It disgusts me that the unemployed, the poorly paid and pensioners are able to live in such a lap of luxury with their warm, well-fed bodies, their clean clothes and, worst of all, their television viewing.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Death of an Artist :'-(

There comes a point in your life when you realise you'll never ride through Paris in a sports car with the warm wind in your hair.

It came to me yesterday, the last day I thought I'd be a poet. I'd been getting poetry out of the library, not to immerse myself in the beauty of verse but to try to find some poems I like to give me some inspiration to create.

Last year it was music. I bought myself a cheap synthesizer to create beautiful music.

Before that it was fiction. I've lost count of the number of short stories and novels I've started but given up on.

Before that it was screenwriting and playwriting. I had the gift. I could create funny, poignant dialogue. Until I realised it wasn't going anywhere.

I've spent too much time from the age of 15, creating stuff that isn't good enough to be heard or read. And you know why it isn't good enough? Yesterday it came to me. I'm just not a creative person.

I have been under the illusion for 35 years that I was gifted. I was born to create. My grandmother had said when I was young, "That boy will be famous one day." My mum reminds me of this now and again and I smile ruefully. All it would have taken was dedication to my art.

But now I realise my lack of dedication, my lack of enthusiasm after the initial spurt of activity is down to a lack of specialness. There is so much mediocre art made in the world and I don't want to add to it. I realise I am crap quite quickly, the critic in me kicks in early and depresses me. Until the next time when I try to create something else.

Well, no more. I will continue to write non-fiction on here. I've got plenty to say about things but I will delude myself no longer. Just because you can write doesn't mean you can write. Not many can.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

The Benefits Cap

Here's Raymond and his family. Raymond, his wife and six children live in a three bedroomed house in North Wales. Neither Raymond nor his missus work. They live on state benefits, from money paid by you and me (well, not me any more). They receive £30,284.80 in benefits per year, a full £82.40 per week more than the proposed benefit cap of £26,000 per year.

But don't feel sorry for Raymond and his family. They can save £15 per week by cancelling their Sky subscription, £32 by cancelling their mobile phone contracts and if Raymond didn't go to the pub every Friday they could save an extra £20. I'm sure they could make the extra £15 up from the £92 per week they have to pay for school books and trips, clothing and white goods replacements. No, I have no sympathy for Raymond and his family, none whatsoever.

Therefore the Government is right to impose a £26,000 cap on benefits. Isn't that right?

Well, the BBC have done their research, alright. You see the average weekly housing benefit award in the social rental sector is £76. And that's what Ray and his family get! They are an average family of eight, paying £76 per week in rent which is the average rent paid in the social rental sector so the average family is taking us for a ride, right? RIGHT???

No, you fuckers. It's not right.

For a start, the average weekly housing benefit award in the private rental sector is £110 and the maximum weekly housing benefit awards are as follows:-

1 bedroom property - £250 per week, £13,000 per annum
2 bedroom property - £290 per week, £15,080 per annum
3 bedroom property - £340 per week, £17,680 per annum
4 bedroom property - £400 per week, £20,800 per annum

There are 1.58 million recipients of housing benefit who live in homes in the private rental sector. They receive an average of £5,720 per annum to pay their landlords. You can see what landlords can charge above. Slightly above the average.

Right, BBC? Do you see how typical Raymond and his family are as far as the effects of the benefit cap go? Do you see how you're pandering to stupid popular opinion, based on distorting the facts to suck up to a government you are are scared shitless of?

Fuck you and your Birdsong.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Graduates Are Better

Nowadays I get my news from Channel 4's catch up service on my nifty iPhone app. It keeps me abreast.

Yesterday we had the news that applications to university this year are down on last year, unsurprising as tuition fees have been significantly raised. Of course, as the professor says in the interview above, graduates are still the first choice for employers when recruiting for all sorts of interesting and life-enhancing jobs.

There are other benefits of obtaining a degree, too. The professor, at 04.25 above, says, "All the evidence that comes out of the OECD is that graduates have a much better quality of life. They're better parents, they're better citizens, they participate in democracy, they're healthier..."

And who could argue with her? Generally, middle class people are better than working class people in this great meritocracy we live in. It goes without saying that a doctor, a lecturer or an accountant is a better parent, a better citizen, more politically active, and more healthy than a plumber, an office clerk, or, especially, a scummy chav living on benefits.

And all children can do it, they can be whatever they want to be. All they have to do is knuckle down at school, "do the right thing" to better themselves if you will, and a golden future awaits them.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Carol McGiffin Nation

One of the joys of not working is the ability to watch daytime television at the time it is broadcast. Instead of having to record The Jeremy Kyle Show I can now join the other skivers and pensioners simultaneously looking for members of our communities.

Most days I catch some of Loose Women. I've seen some awful condemnation of this show on Twitter. People call it all sorts of names.

But it is the best daytime programme and more watchable than some of the evening programmes feted on Twitter such as Sherlock, Doctor Who, Come Dine With Me, Antiques Roadshow, X-Factor, Masterchef, The Apprentice, Question Time, etc. Actually it is better than anything that has a fucking hashtag in the evening.

Yes, there are the guests such as Cliff Richard, Larry Lamb, Dave Spikey and Sue Pollard, regulars who I have no interest in, but it's when the women get down to current affairs that the show shines.

And no one shines more than Carol McGiffin. She is truly the voice of the nation. She talks a lot of common sense, understanding how ordinary people think, giving them a voice. There is a crescendo of applause every time she gets on her high horse about benefit scroungers and those who do not want to work and those who are on the dole as a lifestyle choice.

They're not interested in statistics, your ordinary people aren't. You tell Carol or an ordinary person that there are six times as many unemployed people as there are job vacancies and that a lot of those vacancies will be filled by the currently employed, or that only one in eight people claiming housing benefit is unemployed, she will look through you as if you were talking a foreign language she never took the time to learn. And, of course, the truth is a foreign language millions of people never bothered to learn but they don't like their opinions to be blighted by the truth because then their opinions wouldn't count and they'd have to shut the fuck up.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


The previous post was my last serious one. I've had enough with real life, it's boring. From now on I'm going to restrict my posts on here to the media which as we know is far from real.

The other night we saw a conversation between Ken Russell (not long before he died) and Peter Blake. I didn't know that Blake had grown up in Dartford, though I should have guessed by his accent.

For the first half of the programme Blake asked the questions and Russell answered with few words. It seemed that only one of them wanted to be there.

Blake was very serious. I'm sure Russell, though he couldn't have been feeling 100%, must have been longing for some levity. He was still making films in his back garden at the time, using old friends and anybody who knocked on his door, even the postman, as actors. Still having fun behind a camera.

Blake's life, though there was more of it left, seemed less fun. Designing Fred Perry shirts, a collage for Adidas and Chelsea football club. Russell didn't seem too impressed with the knight's assimilation into the establishment.

One of Russell's 60s TV documentaries was about four pop artists, Blake being one of them. As Russell started to ask Blake the questions he asked him if he still had the pyjamas he wore in that old film. Blake didn't. This was a disappointment to Russell. As it would have been to any film-maker. That was the essence of Blake, the old young rebel in the stripy pyjamas, not the long-time Fulham fan who took the Chelsea dollar.

Monday, January 16, 2012

"Think of all the starving children"

Now I've learnt as much as I want to about Microsoft Excel 2010, I'm ready for my dream job. The next time I go to an interview and they ask me if I can do pivot tables I'll say, "Yes, they're a piece of piss and I wasted a hundred quid on software from which I've learnt very little. It's all common sense, innit?"

I say the next time I go to an interview but maybe there won't be a next time. You see I'm looking for a part time job, a few days a week. I've had enough of the Monday to Friday grind. I was interviewed for a part time job last year. The man interviewing me inferred that I should have been looking for an 8 to 6, Monday to Friday, me not being a married woman whose kids have grown up and who's just looking for a bit of pin money. A man needs to work and work long hours to prove his manhood.

I'm now unemployed but not part of the government's statistics. How many of us are there, living off our savings, taking an early retirement we didn't ask for? The careers adviser said I should be doing some voluntary work to put on my CV. But there's bugger all of that around locally unless I want to do the petty cash for five minutes a week for the Scouts.

Work still has the ability to make me anxious. I still wake up in the middle of the night thinking dark thoughts about my experiences of the past three years. Then I tell myself I've been lucky, look at all the people working in horrible jobs on poverty wages. All the people with no hope trying to survive on poverty benefits.

But that doesn't make me feel better about myself. Why should it? When a child is egged on by a parent to eat something they hate the taste of, does being told "Think of all the starving children!" actually make the food taste better? If the child has any sensitivity they will get depressed about the starving children and will want to not eat in solidarity. They will make themselves ill. In the same way that my anxiety is fed by constant news of how shit the world is and constant confirmation that we are led by cunts. How can anybody feel optimism?

Friday, January 06, 2012

It's Like That And That's The Way It Is

I like to be educated by the programmes I watch on television. And when knowledgeable celebrities are talking about things that happened in the past, I like to have a comparison with something I have experienced so that I can imagine what the real thing was like.

In Armando's Tale Of Charles Dickens, I was transported back to Dickensian times, realising more and more just how much we've got in common with Victorian Britain. For example, Iannucci describes the excitement of a Dickens' public reading. I immediately tasted the flavour of such an event when told it was like "Lady Gaga coming to town".

I'll always remember Lady Gaga's readings at the local Methodist Hall last year. You could cut the air with a knife as her fans listened intently to the story of a poor one-legged wastrel girl who battled against overwhelming odds to become world famous as an entertainer.

Then there was Timeshift: The Smoking Years in which Stuart Maconie gave us probably the most evocative description possible of entering the smoky atmosphere of the upstairs on a double decker bus. "It was a blue fug of cigarette smoke...Like being in a foxhole in Vietnam".

Now I've been in a foxhole in Vietnam on one of my discovery holidays and let me tell you, those Vietnamese foxes smoke like troopers, one after the other.