Total Pageviews

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

blog 156. Ashcroft’s pig-tales tell us nothing new.

If you’re reading this from outside the UK and are bemused – it’s about a rich bloke using his big money to produce a book outing another rich bloke for doing something vulgar with a pig’s head because he (the first rich bloke) didn’t get what he wanted. Yes – while the world is going to hell in handcart...

To anyone with a brain cell who pays even passing attention to who holds power in this world, the gross goings-on of the grossly privileged elite have lost their shock value. They probably run at about the same level of interest as the lesser characters in soap operas.

From a drunk, bra-wearing lord (in charge of the Standards Committee!) snorting cocaine with prostitutes while slagging-off politicians to a nazi-uniform wearing prince and racist consort to MPs who think it ok to abuse the police and lie about it (you see I refrained from calling them by that 1970s Brit moniker - The pigs!) it’s like pouring a thimble of water into the ocean.

Is it even worth mentioning another arrogant privately educated PM who OK’d an illegal invasion in the Middle East and kicked off Armageddon? Alright, I won’t. Not long ago we were reading about so many MPs with their snouts in the trough that Parliament was starting to smell like a bacon factory.

Ashcroft may have hogged the limelight with his pig-headed, boar-ish revelations of porcine debauchery but in reality he’s the one whose biographical de-composition is giving off a whiff of degradation.

My opinion of Cameron and his breed certainly isn’t lowered by this bit of spite (spit – roast pig??? Ok we’ll leave that one). He falls no lower in my opinion because there is nowhere lower for him and his set to go. Whether it’s the Bullingdon club or any other exclusive group where rich boys do stupid things to be regarded as ‘in’, it all turns my stomach. These rich boys float along feeding on the fat-saturated pigswill of inherited wealth without the oxygen of merit. They stink of old money made in the slave trade and the other historical miseries of humanity.

But if there is another level of ‘low’ it has to be someone who is so desperate to get into the pig’s heart of the ultimate club - The Establishment - that they will debase themselves by trying to buy their way in with eye watering amounts of dosh.

I recall once years ago –finding a friend’s daughter taking money out of my purse. As you can imagine we were all mortified. Our upset turned to pity when – on delving deeper – it turned out that the girl, who had an obvious disability, was using money acquired in this way to pay-off school bullies and to try to buy friendship. But she was a disabled, disadvantaged, young girl. Ashcroft is an adult. He has had countless advantages in life but behaves like Dudley Dursley in Harry Potter, who ironically ends up with a pig’s tail. Having received 36 presents he’s squealing because he didn’t get 37.

Ashcroft is paying and displaying his inadequacies more clearly and embarrassingly than anyone I’ve ever observed. On the dignity-meter of life he’s ticking in the red and if he had any self respect he’d be blushing.

If he has a few quid to spare – rather than this gross vanity/malice project couldn’t he have got that woman to write about someone doing good in the world then use his publishing business and finances to promote that?

What a hideous man living a hideous life – how poor in spirit and humanity. How grasping and mean. How pitiful.

If Cameron’s pig-tale is true I’m not surprised. If it’s not true I don’t care. But – if this is how the rich and powerful spend their time and considerable resources when the world is burning, heaven help the rest of us.

The only one who emerges with quiet pignity from this latest privilege pile-up is the dead pig – real or imagined.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

blog 155. Designer handbags are a symbol of failure not success!

Ask Marie Antoinette.

Counter-intuitive? Well maybe it depends on the definitions of success and failure.

Way back in the mists of bloggy time I wrote a piece called Armageddon Will Not be Televised (blog 12 in the archives) and asked in that post -

‘Is it too extreme to suggest that the woman parading down the high street with the $1,000+ designer handbag may as well be walking round with a sick child under her arm’

With hindsight that proposition was an understatement – a hugely, massively, grossly, exaggerated understatement.

Back in the day I found it amusing that some women friends of mine couldn’t buy a thing unless it had a LABEL. If I failed (as I invariably did) to notice / be impressed / understand the relevance / realise the price tag implications of said label, they would help me by pointing it out.

It’s not that I’m averse to checking labels. If, for example, I read a tag that indicates a need for ironing, the item will be back on the hanger quicker than a Tory benefactor who didn’t get a peerage can cut his cash donations.

As someone who generally rips labels off stuff when I buy (Barnardos – Oxfam – British heart foundation) I just never got it. But then I don’t see shopping as a leisure activity and would most certainly feel demeaned if I began to identify as a consumer.

I have been known to go to some effort to cut labels off items I otherwise like if they are visible. Why would you parade around as a free billboard?

I had one friend who really tried very hard to educate me. If she put her latest designer handbag on the table between us in a coffee shop and I didn’t fall off my chair or start cooing like a constipated pigeon she would EXPLAIN to me how exclusive / expensive / desirable it was and even bring up examples on her phone of other desirable women who had the same desirable sort of bag. And I know you are thinking that I probably was scornful but I was not. Once I realised she’d gone all tight lipped because I’d missed the point AGAIN I really tried. But it was akin to when you have to explain a joke to someone. The moment is gone.

Have you noticed that no despot’s wife is without her designer bag! But then there mustn’t be much to do apart from shop if hubby is busy killing his political opponents.

But hey - I get enthused about things other people don’t care about and I am sure there have been countless times when some poor girlfriend has been bravely stifling a yawn.


Now social media is everywhere (and I speak dear bleader as you know from a severe Luddite perspective) none of us can pretend we don’t know. We know the earth’s resources are carved up in the maddest way. We know that otherwise healthy children die for the want of a diarrhoea tablet costing a couple of pence. We know that women are maimed and killed in sweat shops churning out disposable fashion for the west. We know apocalypse is happening in the Middle East and the dying and the desperate are fleeing with nothing. We know that there is enough food on the planet to feed everyone while people spend days worth of hours watching the great British Bakeoff et al then throw away huge amounts of food they bought in the supermarket.

Although most historians suspect that Marie Antoinette never actually said ‘let them eat cake’ when presented with news of the Paris poor having no bread, that phrase echoed discordantly through time because of what it represented. Today’s bag women are the Marie Antoinettes of our age. Worse - because they do know. Just as the peasants of France were not ignoring boulangerie full of gateaux because they just preferred la baguette, those starving or dying in poverty are not doing so out of choice. They are doing so because in the simplest terms they don’t have enough of any of the basics – bread, security, peace.

So the overpriced ‘thingy holder’, far from being a sign of success is a sign of failure – failure to launch, failure to empathise, failure to grasp just what the hell is going on.

If I ever apologised for that bit in Blog 12 (I probably didn’t) I retract the apology – in fact I apologise for apologising.

Anyone who could in all conscience go spend a few thousand pounds on bit of leather / plastic / hessian to put their lipstick, purse and phone in, is off their trolley or a twit. Stick that in your handbag and swing it.

Ditching the designer tat may not immediately solve the world’s problems but it may represent one tiny indication of an understanding that we all live on the same planet.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

blog 154. I’m going grey – why is no one else?

Is grey hair the ultimate Western image taboo for women?

So instead of banging on about global Armageddon as usual on BGOTR let’s untangle the ultimate aesthetic western issue for women. Lighten up a bit. But even this apparently trivial topic has an uncomfortable subtext. In the developing world too often people don’t go grey because – frankly - they don’t get the chance. At the other end of the where-you-were-born lottery we kid ourselves that because we have everything else money can buy – we can buy youth. Or an approximation.

I’m not dying out my grey hair because frankly I can’t be arsed. But as I look around me I wonder if going grey IN PUBLIC is the equivalent of walking round with your skirt tucked into the back of your knickers. Are people sniggering at me – pointing behind my back? Do they expect me to start picking up litter in the middle of the road while muttering to myself?

And grey is so IN. Look at Jeremy Corbyn. On the other hand – you are right – he’s a bloke and generally it’s still us women (even the sensible ones who have decided not to bother with extreme dieting or face lifts or botox or boob jobs or any of that oppressive crap) who still will not let grey hair show.

It’s a novel contradiction because grey is a colour we just adore in public life. There are huge grey areas in morality for example. Look at the army of politicians and other public figures who seem not to realise when they should resign. Should I refer to the bankers who did not end up in jail? Or is that - as one journalist put it - just too boring to be bothered with. ‘So yesterday’.

But today I want to stick with a more work-a-day but in some ways telling greyness. Grey hair. Or lack of evidence of its existence.

I don’t especially enjoy seeing the creeping greyness on my own pate (you can see some in my new blog profile pic though the shot isn’t clear enough to show just how much there now is). I am beginning to get that out-of-step sensation that is never far away from me. However, I also realise, because as I said I spend a lot of time scribbling about the unfairnesses of the world, that I am bloody lucky to get the chance to go grey.

The oddness of NOT dying out grey hair came home to me a few months ago when working with a school writing group. Week 1. I’d worn a headscarf. Week 2. I wore my hair down – which meant a lot of the grey didn’t show. Week 3. I wore my hair up without a headscarf. As we sat down to say our hellos a boy shrieked,
“Miiiiiss – you’ve got GREY HAIR.”
He said it like you might say, ‘you’ve got a tarantula on your shoulder’ or ‘Miss you’ve just trodden on my ingrown toenail’ or ‘Seriously Miss - you’re related to the Bay City Rollers?’ (which I sort of, kind of am – very indirectly).

There are some insightful quotes about aging which suggest we have acknowledged for generations just how ridiculous our attitude to the issue is -
I have everything I had twenty years ago – it’s just all a bit lower’
Gipsy Rose Lee
‘I prefer old age to the alternative’
Maurice Chevalier
(Variations of this have been attributed to many people over the years but most know it from Maurice)
One should never trust a woman who tells one her real age. A woman who would tell one that would tell one anything’
Oscar Wilde
However, Mr Wilde also said
Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit’ – so I will stop there.

Surely the one we ought to pay most attention to is the one attributed to Maurice. Grey hair should be some sort of status symbol; far more impressive than a yacht or expensive car or designer handbag.

Shouldn’t a woman with grey hair be more likely to be listened to, respected, attributed with a modicum of understanding of the strangeness of this world? Instead it seems to denote some indolent slattern who can’t be bothered to get herself along to the hairdresser once a fortnight for chemical alteration. Maybe if she lets her grey hair show she also has dirty skirting boards or out of date food in the fridge?

On the other hand – when the cosmic time register is totted up – you know the one – x amount of hours spent watching TV at home (since 1999), x amount of time stacking a dishwasher (ever), x amount of time dying grey hair – I am glad there will be a big fat zero next to my name.

 Let’s be honest, even if you are lucky enough not to have been born in a country where the world thinks it’s ok for you to die before your 5th birthday LIFE’s TOO SHORT.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

blog 153. George ROBBING HOODLUM Osborne – steals from the poor to appear generous to the desperate!

To fund the desperate refugees fleeing conflict (see last week’s blog) – the chancellor  George Osborne is not going to squeeze tax avoiders who are so eye-wateringly wealthy they have to employ specialists to help them secrete their billions offshore. No – in a twist to the Robin Hood legend - he is going to use the aid budget. He is going to rob the poor to fund the desperate.

As it happens I have a similar honours degree to George Osborne at the same grade - though I went on to study law as well - albeit without benefit of a highly privileged and stonkingly expensive private education. How come I can see that his solution is morally grubby - and he can’t?

Are we living on the same planet?
The madness juxtaposed into the last few days has got my head spinning...

  • ·        A teenaged footballer was sold for £36million while another overpaid ex ball-kicker famous for not saying much decided to ‘have a go’ at acting.
  • ·        Meanwhile Britain finally acknowledged the Middle East refugee shame after seeing a pitiful photo of a drowned child.
  • ·        And grown women paraded almost naked in public at an event called the MTV awards (More Tits & Vacuousness?)
  • ·        A boy band breaking up - made ongoing global headlines and adults were reportedly offered counselling for the trauma.
  • ·        Scientists blew our minds by announcing that children who watch too much TV don’t do as well at school (whoda thunk?)
  • ·        The British Establishment dished out silly titles to arse lickers, bag carriers and wealthy political donors so that a whole host of flesh-pressers and mediocre has-beens will henceforth be known as honourable.
  • ·        Six+ years and £10million after it began, the Chilcot enquiry into the Iraq war is still not ready to report to the public.
  • ·        Perhaps to get in quick before Chilcot – Cameron had a dabble at killing people illegally ‘over there’.
  • ·        The church that ignored mass child rape perpetrated by its priests for many decades announced it would forgive women who had abortions!
  • ·        The press gushed and gushed about Strictly Come Dancing, Big Brother and The Great British Bake Off. (So even those of us without TVs can’t avoid this inane, diversionary crap).
  • ·        It turns out we’re close to the point in human mess-making where almost all seabirds will have some level of plastic in their digestive systems.
  • ·        Any number of self obsessed morons who are dizzily spinning in their own vanity vortexes forked out for more gross plastic surgery.

If anyone can explain how this even begins to make sense I am all ears...

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

blog 152. Could the nice people speak up please?!

If you are of a maudlin cast, mental images of the worlds’ waters and highways awash with the dead, dying and desperate of less fortunate countries will morph into a damning indictment on the state of humanity. If you then, even briefly, scan the internet for information you will encounter safe, comfortably-off but vicious, spiritually bankrupt commentators glorying in the miserable destruction of those other human beings. Maybe because those ‘other’ people have different skin colour or culture and are not therefore worthy of care or kindness or even a decent end. 

Who can understand these on-line parasites feeding mentally on the misery of strangers, publicly evacuating their verbal bowels with no shame?

I find this online carnage almost as distressing as the news stories of the thousands of hapless humans fleeing the daily anticipation of a horrible death to take their chances with possible death lightened only by very thin hope. The shameless posturing, the pride in lack of sympathy is evidence of a paucity of compassion akin to that of the traffickers and it doesn't bode well for our future.

In the UK we’ve just been through a self-congratulatory period following the centenary celebrations for WW1. Oddly any records you manage to find taken directly from the mouths of ordinary soldiers who actually struggled in the blood and the mud are anti-war. Many admit to not knowing why they were fighting. At least it’s generally agreed that Britain and its Allies were the good guys in the second Great War which may be why it’s so endlessly popular with students of history. But I listen to contemporary politicians and those wallowing in a bit of soggy jingoism and worry that they try to immerse subsequent conflicts in that same quagmire.

Ironically there appears to be a crossover between many of the jingoists who glory in a past they never knew and those decrying the fleeing and the fearful of today. It’s worth remembering that one of the things Britain did that it can be proud of is - it took in refugees. Is it different because these ones are brown and black or not Christian? Or is it uncomfortable because we know some are fleeing an Apocalypse we detonated?

It’s hard to avoid the nameless nasties as they spew their bile and acid in the comments columns next to the items you want to search online. If you wait for the print press it can be days behind – ditto the radio and I gave up on TV last century.

All I can think of to suggest is that the decent people -