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Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Blog 72 ‘Miley Cyrus wants your opinion...’

Ok – it’s February and I have a head cold and perhaps should be writing about something either cheery or politically important to justify the thumping on the keyboard which is slightly out of sync with the thumping in my head but I'll just go with the subject that grabs.

‘We value your opinion’
‘Your time is important to us’
‘We’d like to hear your comments’
Companies care about our views the way a cat cares about a mouse it’s about to decapitate. They want your feed-back on their services the way Miley Cyrus wants your opinion on a brushed cotton thermal long-john/vest combo.
What is odd is that some creep in P.R still thinks we believe this shite. Or maybe they just have to spend their budgets and can’t be bothered to walk down the local high-street and take a good look at all the miserable, tired, depressed, worn-out, living-for-Friday people who’d rather eviscerate themselves in public than give another answer to another survey or tick another box on another form which is never, NEVER, E.V.E.R going to change a single corporate or institutional mind unless it involves more profit for said company or an easier life for the administrators.
Is there anyone left in any organisation who doesn’t understand that generally speaking – we mortals just want to be treated with wee bit of courtesy and not be RIPPED OFF?
Ok – I’ll stop with the upper case now but REALLY...
Often when pleas for feed-back are made, the word ‘you’ is repeated.  It’s about ‘you’; we want to hear what ‘you’ have to say. And there will be some nice smiley people to illustrate just what that means; an old person (not someone who looks like they are cold and alone and can’t afford to go out and who only gets a 10 minute visit from a home help twice a week, obviously). There will be a young person (not someone who looks like they have been searching pointlessly for jobs for over a year, obviously). A black person (not someone who looks like he’s always getting stopped and searched, obviously). They may throw in a regional accent to show that they are really down with the people (not brummie because stats show that on the whole it’s one of the less popular accents – obviously). Scottish is popular because research indicates that we trust that dialect – all the better to rip us off. And hopefully – the little ad man thinks – we will see/hear ourselves reflected in that microcosm of British life and not notice that,
a.       When we ring up we can’t get through to a human being.

b.      When we ring up we can’t get through.

c.       Our bills go up exponentially while the service gets shitter and shitter.

d.      Staff aren’t trained sufficiently and often can’t deal with the most basic issues.

e.       Hospitals and schools, for example, are understaffed.

f.       Banks and government departments, for example, are too often corrupted by cronyism.

g.      Our details will be sold on to others who want to send out junk mail.
Telling people that they can have an opinion when it comes to large corporations or public bodies is in that same fluffy mindset as offering choice. Choice in modern day parlance has become a tacit admission that large portions of the service are failing. Take hospitals. What most of us want is a properly run, safe, well staffed unit in our locality. Giving those with cars and sharp elbows choice is simply a means of offering those most likely to litigate, the opportunity to get to the hospital that’s working.
Choice is now euphemism for – ‘we’re not going to deal with the root causes of failing services’.
‘We value your opinion – fill in this form’ is euphemism for – ‘we need to get on with whatever it is we do (or don’t do) so meanwhile we’ll distract you mutts with an e-form along with anyone else mad enough to spend their time sending their thoughts into cyberspace’.
So next time you try to speak to a human who can help you, or try to complain about a service, or wonder why the trains / buses are expensive and crowded or don’t turn up, or your local school is no good or someone has built a supermarket on the playing field or your bank conned you or planning permission has been given for another gambling shop or burger joint on the school route, just remember,
If anyone wants my opinion – cancel February.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Blog 71. Scotland is a Strawberry Tart!

Open letter to the 'No s' from a No-body.
I’ve resisted so hard, jumping on the bandwagon of commenting on the Scotland / England heave ho – the union v no union debate. No Scottish skirmish or Brit bashing or battle for the border, no Salmond baiting or coalition carpeting on this issue from me (well if you ignore blog 37.which was really about the stagnant state of Westminster politics).
Anyone who has ever expressed an opinion on anything, whether they have expertise or experience or not, eventually gets sucked in. As the mighty whirlwind of claim and counter claim, spite and retribution, cajoling and bullying that accompanies the worst break-ups sucks in, we succumb.
The difference is that if we are going to stick with the tired old divorce analogy (Scotland cast as the wife), I do have form. Apart from having gone through the unpleasant experience once myself, I practiced briefly at the end of last century as a family lawyer. And I would therefore like to address this blog as an open letter from someone who may just have an inkling of the obvious pitfalls – to Cameregg & Milliballs and their various squeaking marionettes.

Dear Sirs
(And there is your first problem – how can you possibly understand this from the woman’s point of view?)
The time has come to be blunt – nay brutal.
As the fat old fart in this relationship your bargaining powers may not be what you think. Your sexy younger wife has grown up and grown apart from you. She is aware of how she has lived in your shadow – a shadow which is dark and dank and blocks out her sunlight. You must see how desperate she is if even Mr Salmond is starting to look attractive?
This union was made when Scotland was a giddy stupid witless young thing, unaware of her charms and potential. You have taken often hideous advantage of her attributes and like many bullies – you seem to forget that others don’t – forget.
The initial pleading and whining was lacking in dignity but the subsequent predictable bullying and scare tactics are utterly revolting.
She is like a little strawberry tart still full of promise and deliciousness and not too many calories that will titillate the taste buds and leave us wanting more. You are like a stale old stodgy suet pudding whose only claim to attention is that it’s what people used to eat.
You are politically flaccid she is frisky and full of energy. Yes, there is always the Viagra of politics – some fiscally induced stamina perhaps?  But if things between the sheets aint that good – who WANTS it to go on and on and on?
The latest scaremongering regarding currency is the lowest kind of desperation and harrying. It’s like telling her she will definitely not be able to keep the dog. Well, my mum has a word for dogs – SHIT MACHINES (sorry that’s two words). Maybe she’d prefer a cat. They clean themselves don’t need walking and bury their mess away from your house.
As for her being hounded out of the EU – be careful. Firstly it’s a flawed argument. If she leaves you she leaves the union but you don’t? Isn’t that like saying when two people legally separate only one of the parties is divorced – surely the state of both parties is altered? And in any case, wouldn’t many on the Right who you are currently trying to keep sweet with verbal assaults on European migrants, look north enviously if that were the case?
You have to get out of the habit of drawing attention to things that you think give you leverage over her and in the end fuel her sense of a need to escape from your cold clammy clinch. The more you rant, the more she hates the sound of your voice. The more you threaten the more she feels caged by your inadequacies, barely hidden over the decades. The more you try terror tactics the more she feels her backbone straighten and the fight grow in her. The more you tell her she can’t do without you the more she sizes up other leaner, sexier, less boring, mentally agile, less money obsessed, more spiritually fulfilled possibilities.
At the moment there may even be some sympathy for you. You are all wet down the bottom end, corrupt and dirty in the middle and just kind of not really with it at the top end. The sympathy will fade. She has her life to lead and is feeling the need to get on with it.
Menacing, as you have recently, that even if she leaves you, you will not actually let her go is a base threat that may well confirm her desire to be rid of you. That is tantamount to saying – if the divorce goes through I will send the boys round anyway to barricade you in.
If you think that will drive her back into your grasping groping hands, I suspect you haven’t understood her at all.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Blog 70. I LOVE YA.

Valentine’s all time low for me was when I realised why my gran sent a valentine card to me each year when I was young. It was not out of some sentimental nostalgia or sense of old-lady-fun or because she had a post-box fetish but because she knew that, otherwise, I wouldn’t get any.

There is no point trying to explain my disconnection as a romantic individual. Instead see blog 26 Library Love or blog 41 Not a Lesbian But – which may cast some light.
Having been much sought after in her youth, my gran may have even been embarrassed for me. The only difference between my pre marriage romance desert and post divorce romance wasteland (with kids) is that I learnt to deal with Valentine’s Day torture.
It began at about the age of 14 when the girlie girls began to be inundated with post on Feb 14th and the sporty or underdeveloped or bookish or bolshie or sole non-white in the class or tall and threatening (or all of the above) did not. Accepting that it is as much a commercial fest as Christmas – an opportunity for vendors of cheap choc and red ‘n pink stuff to offload the same – was very liberating. I even added to the situation myself in last Friday’s Valentine Presie emergency blog for those on the other side of the nightmare.
But – so that others don’t suffer as I did - I make this proclamation to all BGOTR readers.
Should spiteful friends ask ‘how many did you get’? Or ‘did you get any’? You can answer YES. A big fat YEEEEES.

Let’s face it, in a world where virtual life and so-called reality are increasingly blurred this is a grey area we can happily exploit.
If you click on the orange ‘Amanda Baker’ in the right hand column (where you usually find the cartoons) you will find your valentine card waiting to be downloaded.
I also hereby give you (virtually) some virtual chocolates – guaranteed not to make you fat or rot your teeth or give you diabetes and some virtual flowers guaranteed not to fade or give you hay fever.
Anything else you would wish for V.D.  (!*$@?”£^&*!) i.e. for card-vendors, restaurants decked out with bows and flowers, pink bottles of champagne, couples slurping over each other in public to piss off – I also grant you – virtually.
It’s all from
Guess who?

Friday, 7 February 2014


Have you got RPP? (Rmantic Presie Panic). Be calm and read on.

Chocs, flowers, a night out, more earrings?
Why not add something that suggests—

I thought about it’

The Companion Contract

by A Baker


A quirky off-beat novel that begins with a contract for sexual & domestic services

and winds its way to a bizarre exquisite inconvenient love.

Dormant passion, drama & weirdness

What’s not to like!


Just click on the link to check the reviews & order on amazon!

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Blog 69 Hairy Fanny – the poem & the musical

I suppose the thing to write about this week would be Gove’s latest act of ego mania. Fortunately I find there is no energy for writing about a tape worm who doesn’t understand that if state schools are spending an average of 6K annually per pupil and private schools around 15K and a lot of state school kids survive the system and do well – the question aint ‘what’s wrong with the state schools?’ but ‘what is wrong with the private schools’? With the spend differential and the time and attention and privilege and connection and the way those families work to block other people, there really shouldn’t be a single law firm / doctor’s post / headship of any organisation anywhere in Britain that is NOT filled by someone from a private school. And yet there are a few!

But I digress.

The item that caught my attention was the one about the 17% increase in cosmetic surgery (since the previous year). Sorry – that should be Aesthetic Enhancement Procedures. This may be to do with the canny trick extreme Capitalism has of normalising the abnormal if it makes a profit. That in itself is dark. Also it seems to reflect the successful campaign waged by the media in commercialising the human body. But – and I would argue this is the worst – it demonstrates the complete victory of the cosmetics industry over common sense. Vested interest has fuelled and then cashed in on the low self-esteem of women and girls more efficiently than ever before. As soon as girls are old enough to understand about their bodies, it seems, they are made to feel insecure about them – and there is money in that.

Many who go under the knife are also under the impression that the ‘alteration’ will improve the way they feel about themselves. That is the basis of many advertisements for cosmetic surgery clinics. Such claims by the beauty butchers and belief by the ‘victims’ is often false – or if true – short-lived. Evidence shows that if someone believes their life will be better if only they are a size D rather than an A and then the magic doesn’t happen – they will actually feel worse. Sometimes they then get hooked on surgery going from one procedure to another in search of that elusive feel-good effect – a win/win for the nasty nippers.

The top ops were boob jobs, face lifts and eye-skin surgery.

In trying to think how to respond to this depressing piece of news I hark back to my first pavement performance at the Edinburgh Fringe. Under a tree outside Saint Giles Cathedral stood the dozen or so folk who braved the torrential summer rain of 2010 while I performed without cover (yes – maybe it should be re-named Saint Amanda’s). I had to explain, as there were Americans in the audience, that in Britain a fanny is a fanny not a bottom but then we were away. Now for any of you who shrivel at the notion of poetry – fear not - it’s just a lightweight humorous piece in simple rhyme form – so calm down.

There’s hair on her fanny and her underarms
She’s too tall /short / thin / fat, devoid of all charms
Should her knickers be bikini or shorts or a thong
She can’t make her eyelashes look three feet long
That hair has a kink - it’s meant to be straight
Or was all that last month – she’s so out of date
There are so many bits that she hates

Flesh is supposed to be always revealed
She needs to be plucked shaved sandpapered and peeled
Half an ounce over the magazine size
She’ll feel like a heifer that’s up for a prize
What are the rules who cooked them up?
Who made this poisoned chalice this half empty cup
From which us saps sup

Should she go Jordan - tits tell-tale and tarty
Skeletal doll posh Becks or Vorderman smarty
Get muscles like Madonna or do glam/trash Cole Tweedy
Or go the whole Katona mad sad and needy
She’ll zombify her face with Botox, inflate her boobs with plastic
Be the gormless, simpering, pouting, fluttering, tottering, dieting, ideal
Then she’ll be

As for the ‘musical’ element – worry not – there is no hairy fanny musical (as yet [as far as I know]). ‘Musical’ refers to my mate Aiadan Clarke’s Hot Words event that is happening at Blakes (opposite The Theatre Royal) in Newcastle this Thursday at 7pm – at which I will contribute a little comedy support set.

World Wide Wait is an epic poetic piece with musical interludes from the fab Joe Moody. The talented Mr. Clarke will lead his Galahad on a crazy geographic and spiritual journey across time and space. In 21st Century homage to T.S. Eliot’s Waste Land, World Wide Wait will definitely be another welcome antidote to our X-factor culture.