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Tuesday, 26 January 2016

171. Privileged White Men keep getting it wrong & we keep listening. Why?

As I was pondering this conundrum last week the answer came to me via the armchair drone of Andrew Rawnsley. On a mid-week radio filler programme the topic was the abuse if migrants in Middlesbrough where the landlord (a subsidiary of G4S) had painted their doors a nice stand-out, uniform red.

Rawnsley stated with bizarre conviction that it was not the case that the landlord had deliberately made targets of these tenants. He was so sure. The only thing that mystified him, he said, was why they re-painted a white door red. Why was he so sure? Ironically it’s a conviction rooted in the most basic kind of one-dimensional ignorance. He has never been/will never be in that position, cannot conceive of being at the mercy of such an intolerable situation, has never been so powerless and cannot make the socio-cultural leap to put himself there.

Is the expensively educated Rawnsley unaware that if an action so obviously leads to injury as to be entirely foreseeable, the law treats it as intentional? The landlord knew beyond a shadow of a doubt the effect of their red door policy (it had been reported to them from numerous sources). Neither is it in dispute that they altered that policy only when the problem was brought to public attention by journalists.

It really is obvious why things keep getting so wrong. But even with the wealth of information at our fingertips and the obvious lessons from history (if we read history without an agenda) it keeps going pear shaped. From the economy to the pointless wars, to the constant mix ups over whether we are friends or enemies with Sadam / Assad / Putin yada yada yada. China is the new economic power house – oops no it isn’t.

The ruling elite are homogeneous, we know that, but they are also now more removed from everyday life than at almost any time in modern history. In the brief socially fluid era after WWII and before Thatcher there was a time when Tim bright-but-dim was counterbalanced by Trevor-poor-but-clever. Somehow Tim and his pals put a stop to Trevor (Leroy [see blog 117] and Lucy never had much of a look in). Add one more ingredient to the mix, which is the speed at which the world now turns due to technology, and there has never been a more unfortunate time to be ruled by entrenched privilege rather than merit.

The level of control is exquisite. It wasn’t long after greedy (predominantly PWM) bankers wrecked the global economy that somehow it became a bit distasteful even to refer to that little hiccup. Ill-mannered types who continued to ask why so few money men were ever brought to justice were told to stop ‘bashing the bankers’. Here here – jolly poor show etc.

Yes, the reason Privileged White Men keep on keeping getting it wrong is because they are Privileged White Men. Their rarefied upbringings and the fact that they only give credence to other people like them means that when the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes ( and he’s been naked for quite a while now) there is no one with clout to point it out. (See archive blog 21. Save the Emperor’s Genitals).

What is less easy to explain is why the rest of us – the majority – keep letting them piss on our lives.

This is the breed that employed members of the police to have sex with left wing women. Sure, tofu eating lefties who believe in natural child birth are possibly a threat to the planet but you know what – they don’t make a big secret of what they do or think. So these guys living out sordid 007 fantasies at tax payers’ expense really could have been doing something more useful.

Who kicked off the illegal invasion of Iraq? Oh yeah – two really privileged white men (something else we aren’t really supposed to talk about much. Chilcot anyone?).

Who gives contracts to G4S and BT and other incompetents? Oh yeah – a government/administration of predominantly PWM.

Who decided we could bail out bankers with public money but not protect the steel industry? Same. Why? Because bankers are like them and steel workers are not.

Which bright spark introduced early draw down pension laws BEFORE sufficient safeguards were in place? Oh yeah – Osborne.  A privileged white man. Someone who will never be reliant on a modest company pension. And so on and so forth.
Come on people
Time to grow up

See also
Blog 35. Eton Mess, Pudding or state of the nation?

Blog 97. Viagra, Yes – effective cure for Malaria, No!

Tuesday, 19 January 2016


My funniest joke or my worst joke - my only joke (!) was bequeathed to me by my dad and he may have been telling it since the mid 70s.

You need this joke.
If, like me, you are depressed by the government paying policemen to rape left wing women (consent is surely void as the women were being conned by the state). You may be confused because that same government (which bailed out bankers) cannot find money to support steel operators, Britain’s last substantial industry.

Despite a brief tangle with stand up comedy, joke telling per se (sorry – everyone seems to be adding ‘per se’ to their sentences at the moment) is not my forte. A fact you will become au fait with if you reach the end of this post. Ok.

I’ve been in the habit of telling this particular gag to my family at intervals of a couple or three years either because I forgot I told them or I hoped they’d forgotten it and would be merrily entertained by my stored wit. As my dad may also have said, ‘if wit were shit you’d be constipated’. But God loves a tryer apparently.

It may be that you are depressed that London already passed its 2016 pollution limits and we’re not out of January. You might also have read the news that up to 1 in 5 recycle bins ends up in landfill. I won’t mention the fact again that we are all knee deep in dog excrement most of the time. Well done local government.

You may be in denial, blocking the horrible reality that oil prices are a game that the super wealthy play with a precious global resource that we should be weaning ourselves off, having long ago lost their connection with ordinary people.

In the UK you may be catatonic with the knowledge that our PM is not a leader but a figurehead while the opposition leader is a collective manifestation of wishful thinking. In the US, you will be whistling loudly and trying to distract from the reality that your most well-meaning president finds himself vilified because he’s trying to reduce the incidents of teenagers shooting their schoolmates. And you also have the headache personified of D Trump (see three blogs down - 167) who just keeps on and on and on not shutting up.

As local services go down the drain you may wonder why local councillors get paid – at all. In the old days when they actually had direct responsibility for e.g. education, and services were not all farmed out to private companies they did not get paid.
You may be confused as to why G4S still gets government contracts despite yet more evidence (do we need more) of bad management, poor practice and the violent treatment of vulnerable people. But then why does BT still get government contracts despite being incompetent and crap?

So – for you – here is the joke my dad used to love and which I also loved when he told it. And I apologise if you are not familiar with the relevant proverb.
A man went to his doctor complaining of a problem with his bottom
Dr. –What exactly seems to be the trouble?
Patient. – Whenever I fart my bottom makes a weird noise
Dr. – What kind of noise?
Patient. – “Honda Honda”
(The Dr examines the patient and pronounces the mystery solved)
Dr. – Ah yes – It’s quite obvious. The problem is caused by an abscess.
(The patient was a little sceptical)
Patient. – Why would an abscess cause such a strange noise?
Dr. – Surely you’ve heard, ‘abscess makes the fart go Honda’.


Again – if you need my psychology explained try this

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

169 Drinkers are dull as Rosie Millard proved.

I didn’t have to work far through Rosie Millard’s article in Saturday’s i (The Independent’s weekend paper) before I came across the hackneyed term ‘party pooper’ in relation to the new alcohol advice. Because of course you must be boring if, like me, you don’t drink and worse than boring if you suggest limits on people poisoning themselves on a regular basis.

Trust me – it’s drinkers who can bore you to tears. Forget the cherished urban myth. Unbelievably, mind numbingly, tediously, deadly dull is an evening with someone who needs alcohol to grow a personality. I don’t get paid for my blog but this teetotaller would be embarrassed to write something as asinine as Ms Millard’s Saturday article.

Through my 20s 30s and 40s I tired of the adults who (wile regarding themselves as whacky – good time party people) clearly could not handle the fact that I could enjoy myself without alcohol.

Now we’ve had the no-safe-level message from the people who reckon they know but who will probably be telling us something different next month. Surely the least we could hope for would newspaper articles a little less – boring - predictable.

The usual reactionary guff was trotted out and not just by RM – I simply use that as a fine example. You know the type of thing – you can live on water and lentils then get hit by a bus... Yeah – ok. Tell that to the staff in A&E on a Saturday night dealing with the body and or social breakages due to alcohol misuse.

Maybe the article was especially petulant because one of the target groups for the new information is the chattering class chugging a bottle a night. Yes – oh my goodness. The humous-eating, jogging, desperately networking, Waitrose-shopping, Boden-wearing, little-bit-of-work-on-the-face suburban comfies. Lordy.

Recently a friend told me that her son’s student bar job entailed him wandering round a club with a tray of vodka PRETENDING to be drunk and PRETENDING to be having a really really good time. The aim? To induce other youngsters to acquire the drink habit. This was his ‘job’. I’ve no doubt that those who are successfully brainwashed will, like Rosie Millard, regard people like me as ‘party poopers’ if they make it to middle age still able to enjoy life.

There are lots of things that may reduce your lifespan. I was surprised to hear that even watching television has been calculated in life shortening terms. As I haven’t had a T.V in over fifteen years (why would anyone living outside London pay a licence fee?) I’m unmoved by that stat either.  However, while some things MAY shorten our lives/damage our health, there are very few that we know WILL. Regular and/or excessive alcohol being one.

And while I abhor the fashion of fat-shaming (usually by men aimed at women – no surprise there) I’d be less averse to drunk shaming. I’d enjoy watching some brave soul lambasting the groups, drunk at 11am on the train en route to their hen/stag dos and discussing, in detail, their sexual preferences at the top of their boorish, screechy, alcohol amplified voices.

Yes it’s true that simply living shortens your life. I do not dwell on the ever changing proclamations from those who appoint themselves to tell the rest of us how to live. However, I am sick of drinkers doing that to me. The husband of a friend spent literally years trying to persuade me to take an alcoholic drink whenever I went to their house. I never once tried to persuade him not to drink...

I was married to a drinker (not an alcoholic) and the bad times due to alcohol that could have been good times were countless (check out my latest book).  Am I the party pooper? I don’t think so. Others may disagree but at least I can remember the fun I’ve had.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

168. Adverse Weather Conditions & Fantasy Government

It was the train refrain of Christmas and New Year.

It was blurted out of tannoys with no shame, no sarcasm and no embarrassment. ‘Disruption due to ADVERSE WEATHER CONDITIONS’ sputtered from public sound systems like odourless, colourless diarrhoea.

As early as 1990 it was officially stated that winters would get warmer and very much wetter due to climate change. I would argue we’ve known since the 1970s but let’s be generous and say we’ve only known for quarter of a century!

As I mentally battled with virulent notice boards crawling with orange delay and cancellation signals, I had an internal function crisis of my own. I briefly wondered if I tore out my hair, flung my rucksack at the M&S station shop window then stripped out of my clothes, the remnants of my sanity/ dignity and ran erratically round the waiting area/cum shopping opportunity screaming ‘THIS IS CAPITALISM ULTRA. DO YOU LIKE IT?’ would anyone have the energy to intervene?

Adverse Weather Conditions (AWCs soon surely – we love acronyms). Though, in effect it’s just Adverse Weather. It’s not a ‘condition’. You know what – its actually just WEATHER.

But whether it's Weather or Adverse Weather or Adverse Weather Conditions it’s not what caused the madness on the railways. Lack of investment in infrastructure and bloody poor management over decades caused the mayhem.

We’ve also known, since Thatcher started selling the country to rich people for profit, that our infrastructure has been starved of resources. You can’t dole out huge dividends to share holders while paying for the upkeep and improvement and necessary development of the things that make the country run. Duh.

Victorian viaducts (for example) should not be attended to only when they sink into the ground. They should be Maintained. Monitored. Checked. Upgraded. The railway companies could use – oh I don’t know – some of the money I’ve paid over the years in exorbitant and still rising rail fares.

With that same money and all the taxes that the British public pay each year to the rail companies (far more than when we owned the railways!) they could plan and invest in a sensible way.

All I would be able to scream by this point because of the disconnect between the fire in my brain and the cold outside would be something mundane like ‘more trains...’ and that’s if I hadn’t been rugby tackled to the ground. Let’s face it who’d want to rugby tackle an hysterical middle aged black woman suffering train related trauma and infrastructure freak out syndrome – TRT&IFOS – on January 1st?

In the face of crumbling overworked sewer systems, potholed roads, cracked pavements, inadequate flood defenses, clogged motorways, poor (or no) housing, Cameron suggested an Infrastructure Commission. I.e. an ‘independent body’ (euphemism for we-politicians-dodge-the-blame) that would be responsible for infrastructure... Let’s just recap on what national infrastructure is. National infrastructure is what makes the country work. Now call me old fashioned but isn’t THE GOVERNMENT supposed to manage that? I mean isn’t that what running the country is? If they farm their core responsibility out to unelected bureaucrats, who is actually in charge and aren’t we just then paying politicians for their daily sound bites? It is Fantasy Government. Just a shame we can’t pay them in fantasy money. As I type I can feel the zombie apocalypse closing in.

So – I would continue my railway rampage – RaRa.

Once I had an audience I would start on Hs2 (I don’t know why I put a lower case ‘s’ there. It looks like some sort of delinquent chemical symbol). Hs2, I would rant, is about providing a train link to London so that non-oligarchs and non-Russian Mafiosi and non-Saudi Arabian friends of the elite (i.e. people who cannot afford to live in London) can commute efficiently in the future to wipe the arses of the oligarchs and Russian Mafiosi and Saudi friends of entrenched wealth.


If I hadn’t fallen over one of the coffin sized wheelie suitcases (see blog 6 Please Get a Bigger T.V.) being navigated by morons who shouldn’t be allowed on trains anyway, I would go on about how we're like third world countries where the 1% live so far above the masses they are unaffected by the lack of or failing infrastructure and simply pop up on set news pieces to say things like, ‘It’s all due to Adverse Weather Conditions’.

By this point however probably some kind person has found my mobile and phoned my partner and he will be gathering up my clothes, rucksack (telling M&S they will have to pay for their own window and, by the way, could they please use less packaging) then he’d bundle me on the bus – maybe wrapped in old newspaper – and take me to his flat. We would leave our, inevitably, dog-shit-covered shoes (yes I didn’t remove my shoes – don’t be silly) at the door and go in where he’d make me a nice cup of tea...