Thursday, 23 October 2008

In the bleak mid winter

What is it with workmen? Why do they have to leave the front door open, just because they are going to their van from time to time? Is it that hard to operate a Yale latch system? Maybe they are more the Harvard types, but that’s enough of my ludicrously sharp wit.

I shouldn’t really be being funny as it’s actually too cold. Surveys have shown that exuding an unnecessary torrent of continual high quality intelligent banter can, in the wrong circumstances, lower the body’s temperature by up to 3°.

So why am I so cold? Well firstly it is winter and the sun hasn’t come out yet, and secondly because my very ancient and never knowingly efficient central heating is in the process of being upgraded to a modern, state of the art, A rated, fully programmable, microprocessor included, thoroughly flushed heating super system! (Do you think I should copyright that?)

New boiler, new pipe work, new radiators, new thermostats, new wireless controls, all very modern. But what an effing ada of a palaver.

It all seemed so simple to start with, British Gas came round to give me my bench mark quote, and when I had managed to pick myself off the floor, and make my way to the chair, had two sherries and a cold compress, I got someone else to come and do it for a lot less money.

Yes of course it will fit in the toilet, not a problem, yes there is plenty of room, yes a perfect choice, suits you sir! Let me just write this up and I’ll send the paperwork through to head office. You want the work done on 20th and 21st of October, our pleasure sir, a very quick job indeed; they’ll be in and out.

The various bits of paper I have been sent since, talk about dust sheets, tool boxes with rubber bottoms, engineers bringing their own flasks of tea so you don’t have to worry about that etc etc etc. So really I could have left them the key and they’d have just got on with it.

Not likely. Firstly it wouldn’t fit in the loo, so now it is in an alcove in the bedroom, which I think will be good, but I didn't want it there. The key issue was to have it moved from a very handy cupboard in the bedroom to make way for further storage space. They are now on day four of their two day job. Tuesday, day two, was peppered with some stern words to 'customer service' which resulted in an extra engineer coming yesterday ‘to ensure the job got completed’. Much action did take place yesterday, but it is still not finished. But I’m hopeful about having the place warm by Christmas. The problem is they are contracted from Ipswich, and don’t get here until 11.00 and leave at 3.00, with 3 hours driving either side. Today is their last day or I’ll poo in their van!

The electrician is here at the moment. He is very dedicated to his job but when I foolishly asked him what bonding the earth meant (not just randomly, he had told me he was about to ensure the earth was bonded), I got 12 minutes on the history of electrical regulations for homes. Apparently edition 15 of the Institute of Electrical Engineers Wiring Regulations was very different to edition 17 published this September. Now back in the fifties you could put a live wire by a warming kettle, but in ’74 they decided that before you could use a hairdryer it was necessary for everyone in the room to stand behind a rubberised fire grate. And so he went on. It was at this point that I realised that he probably didn’t have a girlfriend. ‘How interesting’ I announced. ‘It’s like the DoH and their guidance on red wine, always changing!’ (institute of wine drinkers miss your limits regulations 1969 – 2008).

I better crack on. Dumb and Dumber will be here soon to flush my system and make good my walls. I’m starting to worry that they’ll have to come every day forever and I’ll never be warm, and everything that should be in the bedroom will be in a big pile in the middle of the sitting room, and that I will forever be breathing in brick dust and boiling pans of water on t’hob.

Monday, 28 July 2008

It's too darn HOT

I stuck my finger up my nose this morning. Quite violently. I was in the shower innocently scrubbing my face, minding my own business, dreaming of having my own business more like, when wham! I jammed my finger right up my nose during an upward motion cleansing stroke. Very painful and now I have a big red mark. I think the heat is driving me to self harm. It’s a cry for help, cool breeze, tip tops, 4 weeks in the Greek isles, something – who knows!

Basically its too hot, and the weather men seem to be sending me random suggestions as per what precautions to take and whether to don my mackintosh or break out my parasol. For example yesterday the BBC said the weather in London would be heavy showers all the day long. But no, just scorching blue skies – quite Azure in fact. I even managed to get three loads of washing on that line. Now you can’t do that in a downpour.

It's been too hot at night, and I can’t sleep with the fan on, as it keeps me awake. Not that it is very noisy, but it is a distraction from sleep. It takes very little to keep me awake these days. My sleeping pattern seems to be getting worse. I’m thinking of getting some old school sleeping tablets – I’ve heard Tamazapan are very good. I think a job which one looks forward to of a morning may also aid the transition to slumber town.

Did I say it was hot. Where I work it is like being next to a motorway, but the only way to stay at all alive in this inferno is to have the windows open and the fan on. This causes but a stir of the air, but is a little better than nothing. You can’t hear yourself think though or the person next to you speaking aloud, but there is a little breeze. The other downside, apart from the sirens and the constant motorway level rumble, is you can hear the populous going about their dailies. I think the heat is getting to them as well. I witnessed one woman today screaming at her child so very loudly. I think it wasn’t standing still or some other heinous crime, although the thump she gave it made me think it must have just committed a gun related crime or have been trafficking narcotics. I said to her ‘that’s nice’ in a very unhelpful middle class way. I suppose the best thing would have been to offer her parenting lessons. I do love to help, I’m sure she’d have taken it well.

The weather also infringes on taste and decency fashion wise. Hot you see, makes all sorts leave the house in all sorts. It’s like dress down Friday gone mad. Normally quiet inoffensive slightly nerdy people seem to come alive and attend donning some sort of Alan Whicker styllee get up. Where do they get these outfits from, and what gene based trigger kick starts the process of outfit choice. I think it must work along the same lines as my other 'it is too darn hot' bete noire – which is those frigging flying ants – nasty, where did they come from, where did they go to buggers!

Did I mention old people wearing shorts? Well its too hot to remember everything I suppose. Maybe that is a heat wave moan too far. Let’s just say having seen the first aider at work in shorts today, I have placed a ‘do not resuscitate’ sign on my desk chair. Like a living will – it avoids any confusion.
All the best - keep cool.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

I've decided it's probably time to write my misery memoir. Everyone else is doing it and I don't want to miss the boat on this one. I think this could be the big money spinner I've been looking for.

When you work somewhere as glamorous as I do there are limited retail opportunities during one's lunch hour amble. Once I've bought some vegetarian pate and a fruit bar from Holland and Barratt and checked again, just to be on the safe side, that there isn't anything I need from Poundstretcher, all I'm really left with is W.H Smith.

As I enter this magical emporium I am faced with the latest book releases, and the bestseller rack always has a good percentage of misery memoirs. They tend to have a picture of a crying child on the cover and are called something like, 'Don't let him take me' or 'A Childhood Betrayed' etc etc. Apparently Waterstones even have a new 'Painful lives' section in which to house these new best sellers in their stores.

The masses just can't seem to get enough of them. In my day one was satisfied with a quarter of Quality Street (or radishes) and a second hand People's Friend, but then again if you read on you'll find that my day wasn't all it was cracked up to be. My day was dark.

So, dear reader, please bear with me as I share the outline draft of my first gut churning chapter.

Part 1 - If you don't stop crying I'll give you something to cry about

There’s a photo somewhere of a post war inner city slum child. He is wearing black NHS specs, he has a badly executed home haircut and sticky out teeth, he is sporting a very strange home knitted stripy jumper, old grey school shorts and black plimsolls. He doesn’t look like he is freshly bathed. But he does have a smirk on his face so he's probbaly just stolen a sweet.

So where is this photo – well I don’t know now, but for years it sat on the mantelpiece in my mother’s bedroom. So who is this poor child? Well my sister Mary would tell you it was a rat on a string, but others just knew him as William.

For my misery was that I was an ugly child, brought up in the time style forgot, the 1970’s. Well I know there was style in the 70’s but not in Leamington and not in my life. When a little older I did have an orange jumper but I think that was about as bright as the 70’s got for me.

There is another picture, which I will try and find as the world must see it, of me in shorts, a shirt and tie, still rat on a string era, my brother Joe in a suit I think, my sisters Mary and Anna both in what they were told were gowns, but Mary swears blind they were nighties from Woolworths. We are stood in the garden of our ancestral home with the Doctor, St Jennifer and Suzy. It was Suzy’s wedding day.

Photos also exist from Suzy’s wedding party showing people smoking and looking like they should be up North. Suzy was a girl we had living with us, one of my parents’ pregnant young girls they took in and housed and directed in support of abortion avoidance. They were all very nice. I also remember Margie, Laura, Carol and Patsy. I think Patsy became a model and we used to see Carol’s mum’s name in the credits of some of the old carry on films.

So maybe there was some joy in the 70’s. My neighbours, Phillip, Howard and Lucy certainly had an amazing collection of toys requiring batteries. But I seem to remember the 70’s as mostly being overcast. Perhaps that is simply down to the black and white photos. But I was ugly and at the start of the 70's they did make me wear an eye patch.

As a poor catholic orphan I was taken in by the church and forced to be an altar server. Well I think that's what they'd have thought seeing me up there on the altar. Probably in a too short or too big cassock. Little did they know that I was their doctor’s son. And if they did they should have written in! I think the altar is where I first got the taste for the grape juice. Granddad always said, and I firmly believe rightly so, that if they offered a bit of cheese with the wafer more people would come.

To be continued……. Next time read about how I was made to wear unfashionable clothes whilst being told they were ‘ideal’. About the time I was made to eat my cornflakes out of a dirty bowl, how I was forced to go to school with the poor and about having a Kagool.

Coming this Autumn – the 80’s – haircuts, orthodontists, corrected eye sight and the deep fat fryer.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

I'm a Homoseual Get Me Out of Here!

I'm Not Feeling So Good..................

There’s a lot of it about at the moment. ‘Oh yes there’s something going round’. People always say this as an excuse for possibly taking 3 days off next week (phobia of going to work) because they sneezed or blinked. I used to work with someone who every time she exhaled would announce ‘I think I need a tonic’ and she didn’t mean the Pimms o’clock type neither. I don’t know what she did mean though. Having been brought up in the east end maybe there was some elixir given if she was low of sorts – vegetables, clean water that sort of thing. Although didn’t they simply feed their young hot gin in the olden days?

I digress.

So what is a Phobia. Well the OED says something along the lines of ‘A fear, horror, strong dislike, or aversion; esp. an extreme or irrational fear or dread aroused by a particular object or circumstance.’

I do feel sorry for some phobics. After all having seen Biggins jiggle about in all that worm slime and spider poo with stage school rats running around his feet I can assure you I wouldn’t want to do that. But I know my fear is irrational. Stage school rats can’t hurt you, and worm slime and spider poo are simply slimy and smelly, but not capable of any damage or actual pain. I think doing the Timewarp back in his Rocky Horror Days could have potentially led to more harm for the jungle king!

Till Death Do Us Part........................

But the phobia I wish to speak of today does cause pain, and hurt and division and violence and hatred. Not good.

Big story this week about the Christian registrar who is suing Islington Council for religious discrimination after she refused to conduct gay marriages. Apparently she is now required to perform whichever ceremonies the council requests. Poor cow – how my heart bleeds for her. Although she has a point, you wouldn’t expect a Council to force a white racist registrar to perform ceremonies for black people now would you – they’d be excused duties surely?

Apparently homophobic Christian registrars everywhere are "terrified" of being hounded out of their jobs for not conducting same-sex marriages. Also they say they are existing in a "climate of fear" since the introduction of the civil partnership ceremonies in December 2005.

Now it is important to remember that many religious fundamentalists do cling to the most perverse religious laws – many of which were set by Leviticus.

The one Lillian Ladele is basing her prejudices on will be:

“If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them."

But I don’t see anything in her case saying she should not be forced to marry farmers. Does she check their planting rotas and grazing arrangements?

Don't let cattle graze with other kinds of Cattle (Leviticus 19:19)

Don't have a variety of crops on the same field. (Leviticus 19:19)

Also she doesn’t mention that the council force her to marry people wearing mixed fibres, and she hasn’t asked for permission to be allowed to check everyone’s labels so she can be sure.

Don't wear clothes made of more than one fabric (Leviticus 19:19)

What about straight men with short hair and no beards – is she exempt from marrying them?

Don't cut your hair nor shave. (Leviticus 19:27)

What about second marriages – does she check whether they were faithful in the first marriage – if not should she perhaps be looking to slaughter them rather than marry them?

If a man cheats on his wife, or vise versa, both the man and the woman must die. (Leviticus 20:10).

And finally and perhaps most importantly I hope she doesn’t marry any oriental people, some Africans or anyone with a limp or GOD HELP US a visually impaired person!

People who have flat noses, or are blind or lame, cannot go to an altar of God (Leviticus 21:17-18)

So as my old east end work mate used to say – there’s a lot of it about.

Home Oh Phobia.....................

Yesterday Justin and I aroused such extreme dread, fear and horror in a man at the station that it made him wind down his car window and start screaming like a hyena. It was so bad it also made him flail his arms around like a spastic sea lion or B movie Zombie. This carried on for some time, we thought about alerting an ambulance in case he had experienced some kind of seizure. As we drove off though he managed to take breath and shout that lovely colloquial term for ‘I’m a ignorant cunt please slay me’; BATTY BOYS. So we knew all was well and he was simply another Homophobic bastard, that unfortunately would probably live.

I mean what do these cunts want – separate water fountains, for us only to be allowed to sit at the back of buses?

The Lesbian Mating Game....................

Yesterday a key vote for equality was clinched in the H’s of P. A change in the law removed the "need for a father" part of the application process for children conceived by IVF. This great step ensures that attempts to restrict access for lesbian couples and single women seeking to conceive children by IVF have been halted.

‘After a second day of debate over the human fertilisation and embryology bill, MPs rejected a cross-party amendment tabled by the former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith which would have strengthened existing laws to make IVF clinics consider the "need for a father and a mother" before allowing women to begin fertility treatment.’

On a free vote, MPs defeated the plan to tighten the law by 292 votes to 217.

Hang on a god dam cotton pickin’ minute that means that over 42% of our MPs were happy to restrict access for lesbian couples seeking to conceive children to IVF! Have just checked - this included 12 Labour ministers.

Find out how your MP voted at and then adjust your future voting pattern accordingly.

The Persian Persuasion.......................

The government has also shown its positive regard to equality this week by granting 20 year old Mehdi Kazemi asylum. Mehdi came to London to study in 2005, but in April 2006 discovered his partner had been arrested and named him as his boyfriend before his execution. Fearing he might suffer the same fate if he returned, Mr Kazemi decided to seek asylum in Britain.

Oh but they didn’t grant it initially! The poor lad had to flee to the Netherlands, be sent back and have a big campaign march behind him., led by ‘helps out when they’re busy’ former homophobe Simon Hughes MP, before Jacqui Smith intervened. Bless! Obviously Jacqui thought it was perfectly safe for a gay man, whose executed for being gay boyfriend had named Mehdi as his boyfriend prior to execution in a country that executes gay men, to be returned.

Has our government accidentally slipped to the right of Genghis Khan?

In Other Phobias News.........................

1. Sex Uturn – the Metro reports that a Muslim has threatened to sue an all female driving school for sending a sex swap instructor to teach his wife! Emma Sherdley formerly a father of two called Andrew said the accusation that she was still a man was hurtful, offensive and deeply upsetting.

2. A nasal spray which increases our trust for strangers is showing promise as a treatment for social phobia, say scientists from Zurich University.

3. A chef has been receiving therapy for a food phobia that has left him unable to eat anything but biscuits.

It’s probably best if I stop now.



Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Up Town

The only difference between me and real commuters is that I don’t have a DS lite – apart from that I’m as good as. But there again I don’t have a part share of a caravan at cleavleys either – should that matter? Not sure.

As my usual form of transport is solitary, and apart from Libby Purvis and her guests, without conversation, it was a shock to be reminded how many people hold telephone calls on the train of a morning. The lady I am next to is discussing with a girlfriend/female relative a forthcoming girls weekend to Amsterdam – No men allowed it’s just the girls. The key points were that they was coming back on Monday night and Nadine wasn’t getting herself a hotel room she’d just be bunkin’ down with one of yous lot. This point was made so often I think the woman may have had Nadine is bunkin’ down with yous lot tourettes. I really wanted to ask her why Nadine wasn’t getting her own room, and whether the other girls were ok about her bunkin’ down. They were being informed rather than asked. Anyway Fabien was out of the office today so she’d be busy – that’s all I can tell you.

On the other side of the carriage I had a far more business like conversation, one I felt sure if only she’d ask I’d be able to offer both fortitude, direction and solace. This was definitely a case of corporate mishap or unfair consequences. If she’d only let me have a word, my years of dealing with complicated case work could have been called upon……

Then from behind I hear ‘Well Nan, at the end of the day it’s your home you decide who comes in it.’ A very camp voice went into detail about how he is with his kids compared to the other relative under discussion’s slack ways. When we get off the train I see he’s wearing girl’s cut jeans – really standards have gone down since I was last a commuter! And you still can’t reserve seats. It’s all a bit of a lucky dip re who’ll you’ll get, mad or sane, clean or grubby, guardian or express reader.

So I get to Olympia. My conference is sharing the day with infosecurity 2008 which sees lots of people who look like retired bouncers getting out of cabs with small suitcases on wheels. It must be a fashion thing. This is Kensington after all!

I was just having my third mini cinnamon swirl when it dawned on me that I may have to speak to people. Now I don’t generally like having to speak to people I don’t know, especially if they have polyester suits and the afore mentioned little cases on wheels and hail from a part of the country where it’s more usual to make small talk. Id forgotten that……… actually these mini pan aux chocolate are quite tasty too!

Another key part of conference etiquette is a casual checking of the delegate list. Always good to know who else is coming from one’s own place. I spotted one who I’d be happy to spend the day chatting to should I run in to her so that wasn’t all bad. I didn’t recognise any other names from other places but then again this conference isn’t with regard to my primary function or usual disciplines.

It is still early, and there are currently 8 of us sat at 8 cafĂ© style tables (like ordinary tables but with a cloth on). The tension is palpable – at some point soon we are going to have to share! Sakes alive!

I start to consider a possible alias and imagine back stories. Then I catch the whopping great name badge around my neck glinting in the fluorescent light. Name rank and number - it’s all on show. Oh no, someone has just joined my table – panic – what to do? I’m British I’m not designed to chat. I suppose I needn’t look up, not compulsory I suppose. But what happens if they address me first? I’ll just have to deal with that if and when it happens.

Oh no – he’s eating with his mouth open, now I feel sick. One of the worst experiences in the world is the sound of another person masticating. What is it with people eating with their mouth open – do they think it will get them girls?

I’m reminded of my trip to the highlands ‘do you have much heather in Switzerland?’ I wrote a diary everywhere I went (god now he’s slurping his coffee – where are the police when you need them?). Writing is a good ploy – keeps you busy in alone situations whilst also keeping a tip top record of ones endeavours. Just the thing when you don’t want to appear good prey for conversationalists.

A lady seeks tea – she is listing a range of herbal teas – the server’s face is blank throughout. Her friend says ‘shall we just have proper tea?’ the server’s button has just been pressed, and they come to life ‘Two teas is it?’

I leave to check my coat in. I was trying to think who the coat check lady reminded me of so I could say something funny about her, but nothing.

There’s obviously been a run on the large font conference packs. The girl has just been round checking our sizes. She had a look of a startled deer, so I imagine there must be a visually impaired delegate at reception hungry for a larger font, and the girl has gone and given it willy (excuse the French) nilly to a non V.I delegate.

A very loud woman ‘No I wanted a cloakroom to go to the toilet not one to put my coat in’ appears. Big hair, big sunglasses, dog eared coat, in fact I think our old dog (St Jennifer) slept on its identical twin.

The sofa I am sat on is so low. I’m worried my worldlies which are now, since checking in my coat, residing in my trouser pockets, may slip out. I nearly slipped into small talk, but I held back. Two ladies did a ‘can we park are you bothered?’ style on the end of my sofa. They said to each other ‘gosh this is low!’ I nearly said ‘yes it is quite low isn’t it’ but I wasn’t ready to take the leap. Before you know where you are you’re looking at pictures of their kiddies and agreeing to send them postcards next time you get over to Ipsos or any of the Aegean, Peloponnese ….

Dog eared coat lady is back asking where her party have gone. ‘Black guy in a wheelchair, white guy with a stick; well where could they have gone?’ in a ‘what do I pay my taxes for’ style.

I’ve just had a banana – they probably think I have fruit all the time, and have an organic box delivery service. I can’t say it hasn’t crossed my mind, it’s just I can’t always think of something creative to do with celeriac.

Time to go in. Thank god I hear you say!

Who’d have thought waiting for a conference to start could be quite so perilous.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Gurlz just wanna have fun or how to eat ham in a headscarf

I've always thought Una Stubbs a little scary. Benevolent in a face powder comfort way, but on the brink of revealing herself as an automaton suicide bomber. Anyway that sort of thing.

But I was put right the other day courtesy of dear, dear Julia McKenzie who did the most scary 'a life in the day of' at the back of the Sunday times mag (I don't take it personally re being allergic to Rupert Murdoch, but I do sometimes glance over a neighbour's shoulder.)

Now perhaps like me you were always quite warm to Julia in an oak table and Aga sort of way. But be warned she is not to be messed with and thoroughly dangerous. Here for your safety and education I reproduce snippets of the evidence. Please don't show this to children, especially if they are not yours, and please don't share with any invalids currently receiving treatment in an NHS hospital. I most certainly don't want to be responsible for any ulcerous flare ups!

It was all very 'I don't wear make up in the country, but I do enjoy a slice of ham. I wear a headscarf in Waitrose, I'm not for being recognised'.

Here are some actual gems.

'I have several cups of tea. Then I shower and get into a pair of jeans and a white poplin shirt, my uniform. If a fairy granted me a wish it would be the ability to put an outfit together. I do try, but the result is not good. My friend Una Stubbs, who’s very crisp, tells me what I should and shouldn’t wear. She’s the most fashionable person I know.'

'If I’m going to Waitrose, I put on reading glasses and a brown woolly hat. I’m really not to be seen.'

'If I’m going to be away working I make vats of soup for Jerry’s lunch out of guilt. But I do love the days I come up to London. I wear different clothes, mainly black, and put a little make-up on.'

'I love my Aga. The trick is, knock your repertoire down to six recipes and don’t venture. And I do like a good spring-clean. Chaos makes me nervous.'

'I’m not really a country person. I’m set at town speed.'

'And we’ve got a terribly active village hall, where we have pub nights. We’ve got a licence and someone will start passing round something they’ve cooked, and it’s all very nice. Amateur dramatics, on the other hand, presents a line that should never be crossed.'

'We always eat unsociably early, around 6 o’clock, because Mother’s digestion isn’t what it was.'

And so on and so forth. Fantastic but not quite right. She probably had to take a lot of strong pills in the 70's when everyone's parents lived on gin and tonic, and had sheepskin car coats. That's what I put it all down to anyway.

But the thing is I'm worried that I don't always get the ladies, so it is possible that I may be reading Julia all wrong. It has certainly been suggested recently that I may not be suited to managing women of a certain age. Now I took this as quite an affront, but let's not delve too deeply for legal reasons. However it did make me review my approach.

I'm all for making the most of any potential learning curve, so I took my query to the local lending library where I was confident I would be furnished with the necessary advice and guidance.

Unfortunately I was thrown asunder on my way there. I needed to buy a greetings card (so sorry to hear your gout is weeping) and experienced the following in my local Birthdays.

The woman in the shop was on the phone to the girl who had not come in. Bear in mind this is 11 am.

Woman: Are you coming in today?
Girl: (gleaned) No I ain't got no money.
Woman: well you still have to come to work, you have a commitment to your work place.
Girl:(gleaned) whatever - I ain't got no money, sumfin 'bout mi Gran.
Woman: well will you be coming in tomorrow, cos I'll need to get someone to cover if not.
Girl: (gleaned) Nah I can't be bovered.
Woman: well you'll have to ring Clare and tell her you're not coming in.

All this excitement enabled all the old dears (advanced ladies) in the shop to gather round the till and do a 'in my day you dragged yourself in even if your eyes were bleedin'. One old dear asked of the woman 'is she a young girl? Yes well they don't have no sticking power' I don't think she was concerned about her double negative usage; It wasn't high on her list (under the radar).

When I got to the till, it took a while as everyone else in the shop had quite a low IQ, the woman said to me something about the girl in a 'I really do want to carry on talking about this and getting all the customers involved and debating the values of employment in this modern day throw away society' sort of stylee. I said to her, 'well at least it gives you a wonderful opportunity to say 'you just can't get the staff these days' which I took to be very funny, and a great opportunity to roll out one of my old standards.

She didn't really see it quite the same and ended up trying to over charge me by 10 pence (new) in the confusion.

As you can imagine I was even further off kilter re the employment of women so I was very grateful to Hilda, my local deputy assistant reference librarian who was able to supply me with some tip top guidance on ladies in the workplace.

We found the following tips from the July 1943 issue of Transportation Magazine.
  1. Pick young married women. They usually have more of a sense of responsibility than their unmarried sisters, they're less likely to be flirtatious, they need the work or they wouldn't be doing it, they still have the pep and interest tom work hard and to deal with the public efficiently.
  2. General experience indicates that "husky girls those who are just a little n the heavy side - are more even tempered and efficient than their underweight sisters.
  3. Give very girl an adequate number of rest periods during the day. You have to make some allowances for feminine psychology. A girl has more confidence and is more efficient if she can keep her hair tidied, apply fresh lipstick and wash her hands several times a day.
  4. Stress at the outset the importance of time, the fact that a minute or two lost here and there makes serious inroads on schedules. Until this point is gotten across, service is likely to be slowed up.

Well you can imagine what a boon these were. Although I had always been led to believe that the way to a woman's heart was through a nice pin cushion.

I think however my new policy will be to only communicate via mime - I think it might be for the best.

So there you go

All the best from the west.



Wednesday, 26 March 2008

It shouldn't be allowed

I was perusing the aisles in Poundstretcher this morning, just buying my maid some discounted Easter eggs, and it struck me that I hadn’t shared for some time. As we all know sharing is very important and as I live to lead by example I offer the following thoughts for you to imbibe.

Now The Tories, they’re the ones who look a bit inbred and favour mock Tudor, and I, don’t have a history of seeing eye to eye.

Al together now:

Too shy shy Hush hush, eye to eye Too shy shy Hush hush, eye to eye Too shy shy Hush hush, eye to eye Too shy shy Hush hush

Where was I? oh yes the Tories. Another keen fact is they often look like Cecil Parkinson or Kenneth Baker and hold views a kin to Mary Whitehouse.

These days they will often try and pull the wool (washable at 30°) over your eyes, and go to work on a bicycle or wear cords in an attempt to make you think they like homosexuals. However it is very, very, very, (are you with me here?) very, very important to remember that the only good Tory is a dead one. Or so we used to say when Thatcher, Thatcher, milk snatcher was particularly getting upon our bosoms, or when Ronald Regan had been allowed to park yet another one of his lovely peace missiles on one of our Lesbian theme parks.

As I start to turn into the next generation of grumpy old men (turn? I hear you say) I worry that I am basically becoming a bit of an old reactionary myself. It certainly suits my key skills and most regular moods. Even when out shopping, or enjoying relations I can always find time to yell ‘Get your hair cut and get a proper job!’ The worry is that I’ve been doing this ever since I moved down to London; now 21 years ago, I blame the water.

Moving towards the afternoon snack of my life (pre high tea I must stress) I have less and less time for the stupid amongst us and I find the ability to be offensive towards the under classes has now become second nature.

Over the years many otherwise ridiculously liberal people have, off the record, agreed that breeding restrictions should be administered upon whole swathes of society, but you’re not allowed to say it out loud. It’s not very nice dear. 7 million Londoners, one London all that sort of thing. Open your arms, move from your gated communities and love thy neighbour. Well that’s well and good if you live in Hampstead, but as you all know even in East Dulwich you can be touched by the dark side, and I’m not speaking of a chunk of Bourneville after 4 pear ciders.

So when I read that John Ward, a Tory Councillor from Medway, who yes does look like Cecil Parkinson and Kenneth Baker all at the same time, was preaching that people on benefits should be sterilised I didn’t know which way to look. On one hand I was saying ‘oh dear surely there must be something we can do to help, and really, what a thing to say’, but on the other hand I was reaching for my Daily Mail membership card in order to call the pledge line. He offered a woman who had seven children by five fathers as an example of Breakdown Britain. I suppose at least in her favour she has twins (new definition = 2 kids in a family with the same father).

Thank god there is still a liberal hiding inside of me (just left of the liver no doubt). I know people are on benefits for a whole range of reasons, and I support the welfare state, I do, I have benefited from it myself over the years as have many of my close and dear. But none of us, not even those with the appropriate equipment have ever felt the need to have 7 children by 5 fathers.

Now I best dash before I too am asked to stand down and return the whip, but let me leave you with just one last thought. If you are not sure whether you have the basic skills to satisfactorily bring up your children, and or you don’t have the resources to even provide the basics for the little darlings once you’ve shot them out onto the lino, then please, please – DON’T BREED!

Keep warm and toodles,


Saturday, 8 March 2008

Are you white?

There's been a lot of talk this week about the white working class and how these days they have no one to represent them. The Labour party who were previously the natural home of the working class is now a middle class, middle road emporium of bland, rather than strength for the workers of Britain. But also the working class are no longer the workers of Britain. This role has been taken over by our Eastern European neighbours, who are happy to pick caulis for 2 pounds an hour as it is still more than they can earn in their country of origin.

The working class are to some extent becoming the workless class, and no one is for them; the trade unions are no longer a strength to reckon with, and as the manufacturing base of this country declines further and further, so has the down tools ability of country wide control they once held.

Not that any of this movement is necessarily a bad thing, but it has led to a real shift in social structures, representation and of course there is no one left to play the spoons.

The BBC have even marked this 'new invisibility' with a new series called White which documents Poles meeting rivers of blood and working men’s clubs lying empty in mostly Muslim neighbourhoods.

So what is the answer for the white working class?

I think there can only be one answer to this. There should be more cockeney knees ups. Apron dancing should be taught in our schools, and all Councils should have a signed picture of Lou Beales in the Town Hall and all the newly signed up immigrants should be required, at their citizenship ceremony, to turn to the picture and say. 'Cor blimey, me old ducks, can you adam and eve it, I ain't half feelin' a bit Tom. 'Ave a banana'.

I think that is all that is required, to be brutally frank.

All the best from the west.


Monday, 18 February 2008

Always follow your doctor’s instructions

I do believe that carrying a handkerchief is a jolly good idea, and is certainly encouraged by health promoters as a tool to stop the spread of infection.

There is a great poster in our kitchen at work which reminds me of war office style guidance. It’s not quite ‘you never know who is listening’, or ‘keep calm and carry on’, but still tip top advice on what to do with the germs which so many people happily sneeze out into this shared atmosphere of ours.

‘Catch it, Bin it, Kill it!’

I don’t carry a handkerchief myself, as I sneeze very rarely. I mostly have a constitution of an ox when it comes to illness, and don’t really get colds from one year to the next. When I say ox, please note I am picturing quite a haggard old ox whose only health qualities are that he doesn’t sneeze.

I’m sure now I come to think about it that my father had handkerchiefs embroidered with his initials. The closest I ever got to individual embroidery was those name tags mum had to sew into my school jumper. Why she bothered I don’t know. I don’t think I’ve ever lost anything. Some people are forever losing things. I know some people who regularly mislay their mobiles or house keys. Whilst they are calmly not batting an eyelid and I am nodding in an attempt at shared tranquil nonchalance I am quietly thinking ‘how could you be so stupid, why don’t you care, what is wrong with you?’ etc etc, but I digress (regress)

So handkerchiefs. Yes many benefits, blah blah blah, but did you know they could heal?

Well they can. This lunchtime one of my team was handed a lovely leaflet in the street. The leaflet tells the story of Audrey Tung. This is Audrey’s Story.

‘Since childhood things just never seemed to go right for me. There was always some crisis to confront and my family were at their wits end trying to help me. I found myself at the brink of despair more times than I want to remember’.

Now I am sure that many of us have experienced times of despair and challenge and can sympathise with the story, but have any of us ever found solution and solace the way Audrey did?

‘One day my grandmother brought me a blessed handkerchief and from that day I began to have anew outlook on life.’

So where can you get your very own Blessed handkerchief from – I know you want one - Calm down dear it’s only a blog - I know, I know, give me a minute and I’ll tell you.

Well you want to pop along to your nearest Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG) this Sunday where they will be handed out ‘free of charge’.

The handkerchief has a lovely red cross on it and the material used has been blessed at the garden tomb, the pool of Siloam, Gethsemane, the upper room and the Jordan river. Well you can’t say fairer than that can you? Well can you?

I’ve done a little research and it appears there are other religious trinkets which may also help.

  • The faith nail – for hammering through prayers I believe
  • Catholic miracle medal – something about Jesus
  • Prayer candles – you have to melt it with someone else’s in the prayer tower - sounds a bit kinky if you ask me
  • Paper prayer rugs – for kneeling on during prayer, easy wipe by all accounts

and of course, my favourite...............

  • the prayer fleece – don’t ask, just drink, it always works for me.

So dear reader, I do hope that when you get your new handkerchief you also get a new outlook on life, but be warned by the following disclaimer: ‘the UCKG does not claim to heal anyone, but believes that God can through the power of faith. Always follow your doctor’s instructions.’

All the best from the west and toodles.


PS since writing this blog I have sneezed 3 times. I think it is a sign and will be consulting my spirit guide (Peggy) forthwith.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

The New Elizabethans

Firstly I would like to wish everyone a very Happy New Year. I hope that 2008 brings you happiness, peace and adventures new.

As always I like to start the New Year by striding forward. This may be in the form of an embrace of culture, science, art, or as in this year’s case technology!

Whilst I sit here resting my housemaid's knee, I can let you into a little secret. I now have an Ipod. It's silver, very small, tip top and right up to the minute. Justin has shown me how to use it, although I must admit I have been familiar with Itunes for quite a while now, and I even have an Itrip, which I hope to be able to utilise during vehicular perambulation.

So yes, do as I do, embrace change, charge forward into the new age and be able to listen to your Archers podcasts at home, on the move or just in the lastest mode.

I'm very now. Are you?

Happy Very Modern New Year.