Thank you to those who have emailed and texted and facebooked and commented asking where I am and what I am up to. The answer is nowhere, and up to no good. But seriously, I have been so super busy that I have only been able to start to create posts, and never finished them. I shall endeavour to do better. Watch this space!
Thursday, July 18, 2013
The average 30 year old British worker is doomed. Doomed to scrape a meagre living while in their 30s, their so-called 'prime of life', or else doomed to a penurious retirement, living off Salvation Army means and one lump of coal a day to heat our huts.
As house prices accelerate 60% faster than the incomes of those who own them, according to Office for National Statistics data, those who are blessed to already be property owners may be thanking their heavenly benefactors that they have at least been able to get on the property ladder, in the hope that this pile of bricks and mortar could provide some income or capital gain in retirement, when the mortgage is paid off.
at 6:00 am
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Two days ago, on my now-obliterated Facebook page, I reposted an extremely well-argued, thoughtful and balanced blog on the vices and virtues of PRISM and NSA-like activities.
I considered it to present both sides of the story pretty well: the need for scrutiny and to monitor what may be illegal activity, against the rights of the individual to privacy.
It got zero comments.
Not true. It got one comment, from me, stating: "I give you gold, people, and you say nothing. I write about toilet habits and I get 101 comments and 200 likes."
Today, I was late for the train, along with ten other people, who would have easily got on the train before the doors closed, except that some mother was letting her small toddlers dandle down the stairs in front of busy commuters, who could not simply push a child out of the way.
As a result we missed the train by a few seconds. I then posted on my facebook a comment that basically indicated it was unfair for 10 workers to be inconvenienced by a mother. I also said I wasn't interested in hearing whining comments from mothers.
I got whining comments from mothers, some of whom had the utter effrontery to make snide comments about Christianity to me. Pot, Kettle.
1) I can say what I like on my facebook
2) You can argue on facebook, but it is like running the special olympics: you can win, but you're still retarded.
I don't force my life choices on people. Maybe when I am a parent I may have to. But there is no excuse for bringing an enormous pram onto a packed commuter train, while frantic commuters run up and down the platform because they cannot get onto that carriage. This happened at Herne Hill.
That is simply taking advantage of the gift of motherhood and shoving it in people's faces as if because someone has become a mother, therefore they are better and more caring than everyone else.
Right now, let it be clear, I do actually love children. They are great. And I am sure I will become an annoying mother. But right now I have very little sympathy for mothers who can't get over their own selves but have to resort to calling me "arrogant and entitled" for expressing my opinion that it is not fair that one person should have prevented 10 people from getting to work.
And therefore I realised how all single women, or married women who have chosen not to have children must feel. Second-class. Or that their opinions do not count.
Well here's to those who choose not to have children. I may not agree for my self, but I applaud your decision.
For ten reasons:
1) Being a mother does not give you carte-blanc to think you are better than everyone else. You're the same annoying person you were before giving birth, except now you only have one line of conversation and you think you're right about everything to boot.
2) Your child is not an amazing super-talent or "unlike other children". Balderdash. It poops its pants like every other child.
3) Your two month old did not deliberately elucidate two or three-syllable words, when it can't even say "da" or "ma" yet. You are simply hallucinating from lack of sleep.
4) When you push your pram onto a packed commuter train and then complain because someone said 'Owch', don't complain. You're forcing your life choices on others, not the other way round.
5) If your precious angel cries or gristles during a service, or a play, or a meeting, yes, this does upset everyone else in the room. Take the thing outside. We didn't force you to have a baby, you chose it and it is your job to deal with its crying, not ours.
6) If you don't want it getting in the way of other people, put reins on it. I had reins and I was always kept safe, rarely had a fall and yes, while I didn't enjoy my 'freedom', the rest of humanity appreciated my parent's consideration.
7) "I can't believe people won't allow children at the wedding." Personally, I agree. I like children at weddings. It's fun. But I can see why some people might want a nice, grown up affair with lovely things that matter if they're broken. Again, they didn't force you to populate the earth, respect their decision.
8) Being single or a non-parent doesn't preclude us from having an opinion. What it does stop us doing is affecting people around us in a negative way. Your child's tantrum in the shop is a pain in the posterior and we will give you dirty looks because it is annoying.
9) Just because some women do not want children does not mean they are not as good as you. Stop being a martyr. You chose motherhood. We didn't choose your motherhood.
10) Don't expect us to do a backflip and clap like a cheerleader when you tell us little Tommy has said his first word or smiled or said no. Big fricking whoop. Wait until he's 20 and then does his first smile or say his first word, then we will rejoice with you. Until then, shut it. You're not interesting. You used to be. You used to have conversation that didn't start with "When you're a mother". When you're no longer a moron, come speak with me again.
I am sure you can think of more. I am sure I'd be DELIGHTED to hear all your comments about how awful, how could she say these things, etc etc. I've got an opinion and I am entitled to it. And to air it on my facebook or twitter or anything without a bunch of self-indulgent holier-than-thou mothers getting all supercilious about it. Half of your children will probably end up throwing you in a cheap retirement home anyway and moving to Australia to get away from you.
Think on that.
at 1:16 pm
Monday, May 20, 2013
Yesterday being one of the few warm days this year, and my own body temperature reaching that point between 'blood boiling' and 'face exploding', I hesitated before shutting the first-floor kitchen window.
I thought: 'perhaps I shall just put it to; a little cool air may do me some good'.
But then a voice from deeper, further, a voice born of instinct or God, spoke like a wise elder across my thoughts. "Shut the window; something could get in. Could climb on that roof and get in." I was obedient to that voice, shut and secured the window, although in all my nine years living there, nothing has come in, except whatever creature Monty The Cat has deemed acceptable as a half-alive/dead/alive-and-exceptionally-affronted offering. But Monty The Cat was curled up in whiskering contentment on my bed.
We both slept. Until there was a scratching, a tapping at the kitchen window. Because of my migraine, I dozed fitfully, so the noise woke me immediately. It happened again; the cat, too, with his extraordinary sense, looked immediately at the kitchen, bounded noiselessly onto the counter and peered at the garden visible neath the four inches of gap between blind and sill.
Ears forward, tail twitching, he had reached there in a second; my bumbling humanity, tho almost as silently, reached it in four seconds. Nothing was there; the security lights were on downstairs and in the alley to the side, but there was no sign of a fleeing tail or crouching tigger, hidden fox. No sound from outside nor shaking of a tree to indicate the flight of the culprit.
I am sure it was no more than a large bird, or cat or, at an outside chance, a fox - but this is the first time that any animal other than monty has attempted to come in. Mindful of the voice of warning I had heeded, I thought how auspicious it was that I had listened to that voice, even though it had been contrary to my desires. I glanced at the kitchen clock, which is digitally linked to the correct GMT. It was by then a few seconds after midnight. The scratch, heard by both MTC and myself, happened at midnight exactly. Curious, eh?
at 5:15 am
Friday, May 17, 2013
1) A tendency to forgetfulness
This has started to bug me. Every now and then, I am so overheated in my head with thinking about this and that and the other, that something will steam up and I will mislay my keys or forget my phone or someone's name will completely evaporate.
But until recently, these have been few and far between, incidents that were notable for their infrequency, not their frequency. Just three weeks ago, I left my phone at home three times in the space of five days. I regularly forget people's birthdays, things I have to do, where I am going and what I am meant to be doing. I have started emails and forgotten two whom I am writing.
Thing is, I write lists. Copious lists. I have electronic and paper based diaries. I always keep memos of what I need to do and things to remember. But I have been forgetting to look at these.
2) A glaringly long-term memory
Simultaneously, my long-term memory has been sending me flashbacks from the past that have startled me with their glaring intensity. Scenes like a snapshot of my young life have flickered before my waking mind, vivid, suddenly.
I will remember a poem, a line from a book, a sensation of my first taste of olives, a scent of cleaning fluid, the first thing I heard a boy - who later became known to us as 'Big Will' - say at university on the occasion of the first dinner the first night at Tetley Hall ("Flipping hell, look at all the birds"). I will suddenly recall the lyrics to a song long dormant in my neural recesses.
It concerns me that I can remember the distant past and forget the immediate, the just-gone moments.
3) Easy distraction
I will be in the middle of a conversation at work or church or in a professional context and, without realising it, I have somehow gotten the stranger down a complete side road, a leafy avenue of conversation that has nothing to do with corporate bonds or the problems with pensions liberation.
We end up discussing ticks on dogs, the smell of autumn rain, my childhood terror of ceilings that prompted me to cling onto the nearest wall and refuse to let go.
Or I go online to check on someone's job title. I end up on twitter, then flick to a flickr page, then onto a facebook group and so on and so on until I realise I am reading a Daily Mash article about Kim Kardashian's shoes and I have no idea how I got there, or what I was doing at the point of my distraction.
I do not know how I manage to get any stories written or articles produced or the desk managed.
4) Denial and displacement
I know my wedding dress does not quite fit me. I am a little to big for it. I am getting married in 80 days' time. I am ostensibly dieting, I convince myself I am dieting. I am not. I am eating carbs - more and more carbs. I am drinking coffee and getting to bed late and waking up late and drinking coffee and eating carbs and sugar and cakes, all the while knowing that this is not helping but perpetuating the cycle.
But get this - I am still convinced that I am on a diet. I feel that I have hypnotised myself into believing that I am losing weight, that I am on a diet. I cannot believe that my 'little snacks' are anything more than a one-off, any more than I am convinced that my increasing forgetfulness is a series of 'one-offs'.
I am also convinced that when I do eat - it is other people's fault. I am out with them, or being led astray, or coerced into eating what they put in front of me. It is everyone's fault but my own. Except nobody has force-fed me anything. This is all my own doing.
5) The fog
All this above has helped to create a fog. I am walking from day to day in a fog. I am unclear about where I am going, what I am doing - what I am SUPPOSED to be doing, who I am and what did I do with the thingy that I need for the wotsit? You know, the doo-dad that goes in the thing? The who what dowotta now?
Sigh. I am not myself. I am in invisible cotton wool. I have been cocooned in mental bubble wrap, perhaps to protect me against the inevitable pain that will come with the house sale and the house move and the wedding and the honeymoon and the lifechange that is all happening within the next three months.
My fear is that when all this change is done, when all the fog has cleared, will I be the same afterwards? Will I still feel mentally dazed and confused? Has the process of madness commenced already - am I falling into myself? I have met and mentored so many people whose process into a state of duality has started with this dizzying whirl of mental, physical, emotional activity. I am genuinely worried that this will happen to me, and this is why I am writing this blog again, starting once more to collate my thoughts and compose myself. The mermaid is looking for herself and wants to find her.
at 12:10 pm
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
1) Some people have no concept of walking in a straight line. This is exceptionally annoying when they cross in a diagonal right in front of your straight and honest path on a zebra crossing, causing you to stop in your tracks and in the tracks of the waiting cars. Morons. Have you not even started to evolve?
2) Sneezing without covering their faces with their hands.
3) A man coughed on the train, I kid you not, evidently coughed some gloob into his hand, looked at it and licked his palm. LICKED HIS PALM. People are animals.
4) Why do people think it is okay to stop right in front of you in the middle of the pavement?
5) People who do not know how to walk up stairs. Getting the lift to go one floor just to heat their lunch up. They are not ill, disabled or pregnant. I know this because I know them. They are simply lazy.
6) There is a lady (for want of a better word) who works on the 5th floor in the FT building who does not know how to flush the chain. She always takes the biggest cubicle – meant for the disabled, by the way – and proceeds to do a poo. She then leaves all her poo there for other people to flush. This would not be so bad but she only does this when she is on her period. Therefore she leaves poo and blood and smears of bloody-poo stained toilet roll all over the toilet bowl. This woman is an animal and if I find out who it is I will literally drag her back into the cubicle and make her flush the chain. She is a cretin whose parents left her to be dragged up by wolves. She is a disgusting, abominable creature and I will find out who this vile piece of what should be humanity actually is. She will learn to flush, even if it costs me my job.
7) That’s it, actually. Only six things have annoyed me over the past two days.
at 12:21 pm
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
- People will take delight in informing me that they are hungry and ask ‘when is the dinner’
- People will delay the timings at the venue by being late or slow
- The few hardcore drinkers will use up all the free drinks tab and those who don’t drink will have to pay for their own cokes
- The table settings will look stupid
- The decorations will fall down during the meal
- Someone will break something that I will have to pay for
- The wedding car will get caught in traffic
- The wedding dress will get caught in the door
- The wedding dress will get smeared in poo. I do poo regularly throughout the day. What if I can’t hoist it up properly and end up getting poo on it?
- My parents will argue with each other
- My parents will contain their arguments with each other but tell me all about it instead
- My bridesmaids will argue with each other
- My bridesmaids will contain their arguments but tell me all about it instead and make me come to the toilet with them, during which I will poo on my skirt
- Someone with children will ask me why I am not letting them stay for the evening when other people with children are staying for the evening
- Someone’s child will put poo on my skirt
- Someone’s child will argue about who will put poo on my skirt
- Someone will get burned by the fireworks
- Someone I don’t like much will not get burned by the fireworks
- People I don’t know will tell me information I don’t need to know
- People will offer me tips about the wedding night or make obscene comments
- People will wonder why there are no speeches (see the above)
- I will have a plethora of calls during the morning from people asking stupid questions of the bride: “What time does it start?” “What colour are the bridesmaids wearing?” “Will it matter if I turn up late?” “Will there be a gluten-free option?” “Have you got so-and-so’s telephone number?”.
- I will have spots on my chest from stress
- I won’t have time to do my hair
- The decorations will go all wrong because I am not there to supervise
- I will hate my dress on the day
- Only my side of the church will be singing the hymns
- The preacher will ramble on and make the same point 100 times as usual
- I will need a wee
- I WILL need a wee. This is not a fear. This is fact. I have to go every hour.
- Despite all the decorations, bouquets, flower arrangements, cards, order of services etc being my designs, my creations and my time-agonising craftwork, I will get none of the praise and all of the criticism: ‘if only it had been taller/smaller/wider/more colourful, or ‘you should have, you could have done, I would have done, I did’.
- People will try to pin money on my dress. This will only NOT be a bad thing if there is a poo smear on it, because the money will cover it up
- Someone will gatecrash
- Someone will get lost and ring me for directions
- The best man will decide he does want to do an impromptu speech. At the last minute.
- I will fart during the vows
- The photographer will charge extra time for people being SLOW or the preacher going on and on and Ariston
- The photos will come out looking shocking, what on EARTH is that on my dress?
- A million people will tag a million photos of me unauthorised on facebook
- Someone will complain about the DJ
- The DJ will complain about other people
- The best man will forget to pay the rest of the DJ’s money
- The DJ will complain about the best man
- The Best Man will fight with the DJ
- My father will dangle the Best Man over the balcony
- The reception will mess up the cake stand
- The reception will lose the pre-ordered bespoke cupcakes
- A child will lick all the bespoke cupcakes
- Bespoke cupcake stains will get smeared on my dress
- A stray crow will fly into the building, causing mayhem and destruction and smearing my dress with guano, before plucking out the eyes of a small child who should have been sitting down on the kid’s table but, no, mummy got too precious and decided that little sonny/little bonny had to come and sit with them, which means the person next to them will have had a small foot kicking them over and over and over during the wedding breakfast, until of course the rabid crow comes and de-ocularises the brat.
at 11:31 am
Monday, November 26, 2012
I am exhausted. It is barely 10pm and I am already exhausted, despite having done very little save a little washing up and boiling my Christmas puddings (which involves pouring water into the pans at intervals). Hardly taxing.
I don't know when or how this gnawing fatigue came creeping over me, overcoming my every move and thought. The tiredness gets me, makes me forget that I am hungry, causes me to lose things, wheedles tears from me for little or no reason and jump-starts me into fits of stressful anxiety over yet another thing that I have remembered to add to my ever-growing to-do list.
I should jettison the to-do list. I know that. But without it I would forget what I am supposed to be doing, or what I should be doing.
It has been a while since I published to this blog. I doubt people still read it, as there is very little of use or entertainment on it nowadays. Maybe one day. When I have time.
When I have time!
The doctor has diagnosed me with RDD - reactive depression disorder. Caused by stress. Caused by doing too much, by volunteering, by taking extra on myself 'because I can take it'. Because nobody else will. Because I feel guilty saying 'No'. No to friends, no to my mum, no to everyone. It cannot be said. I have been brought up to believe saying 'no' is selfish. It is putting my own needs before others' and that is wrong.
And now as a result of this residual guilt I have broken down, fallen apart, faltered at the first new hurdle, collapsed and feel the weight of everyone's expectation bearing down on me, the would-be Atlas.
So take my few, my paltry words, my sporadic, less-than-entertaining blog posts as they come.
I am exhausted.
at 5:37 pm
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Let them eat nothing
Does Clegg talk to Steve Webb, ever? Did anyone over the age of 60 vote LibDem? Has Clegg officially lost the plot?
I refer to his comments at today's Lib Dem Conference when this chap, whose parents were hardly malingering in poverty during his comfortable upbringing, said that pensioners should start getting their incomes cut by way of surrendering universal benefits.
Well, that is well and good. Perhaps the most wealthy pensioners don't need a fuel allowance or a free TV licence. But why should these be taken from them? Every winter that comes the fuel bills get higher and higher, and with the effect of inflation eating into people's incomes, and affecting the oldest of the population the most, the fact that everyone can get a fuel dividend or a free TV licence is a pretty nice benefit.
It's one of the virtues of living in a so-called democracy, Clegg, a democracy where there is a decent, if heavily in need of repair, national health service. A democracy whereby rich and poor are treated with respect.
And when you state that it's time to cut from the most wealthy, you end up squeezing those who are on the border lines - who are just about making do, by sheer willpower and the fact they have been prescient enough to save all their lives. Now you want to penalise these for their prudence.
What's more, you will end up opening the floodgates for a whole raft of ill-informed ideas from think-tanks whose staff have all benefited from a middle-class upbringing and education, and whose parents probably live quite well in a finely appointed country home, tending their begonias, waxing their jackets and going on constitutionals with their black Labradors, who all seem to be called Ollie.
I refer to this insane release from the IEA:
"Commenting on Nick Clegg’s call for wealthy pensioners to surrender age-related universal benefits, Mark Littlewood, Director General at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:
“Nick Clegg is right to highlight the unfair nature of universal age-related benefits, but all pensioners should surrender these benefits. Means-testing would be a bureaucratic nightmare and would not make savings for the government.
"The three non-cash benefits to pensioners should be abolished. If the coalition is worried about the poor they should focus on increasing the cash means-tested benefits already in existence. The current system lacks any economic rationale.
“The government has imposed many new burdens on the younger generation, yet older people have remained largely insulated from the cuts. It is time this changed.”
This is patent nonsense. One-quarter of those who are deemed poverty-stricken in this country are pensioners. Many of these do not have family or friends on whom to rely, and their one ray of light is getting a free TV licence so they get some form of human contact.
Why shouldn't the poorest have a fuel payment in winter? Energy companies are raking it in and to suggest that this, along with other benefits, be cut, is simply condemning the poorest people to death. That's right, whoever at the IEA considers that there's no economic rationale to giving a fuel payment, even to the poorest old folk. You talk 'economics'. I talk 'ethics'. We have a responsibility to care for our elderly. Perhaps your parents are well off enough not to miss £75.
Well let me tell you, Mister, without that £75 my mum would not be able to afford the higher central heating bills at Christmas, and would end up freezing. And she's not even on the poverty line. You take that away from the nation's poorest pensioners, and you are signing a death warrant. Smart move, Mr Littlewood, smart move. I bet your pension will come in at more than £9000 a year. That's what my mother lives on. A company pension of £9000 a year and about £1800 from the government. Is that what you hope for in retirement? Is that what you long for? Is this your dream? I think not, Mr Littlewood, I think not.
The third benefit is free travel. Well, not every old person in this country has a car, can drive or is able to drive. How do you think the oldest people get to hospital, to the shops, just outside of their front doors? If your mad idea is ever taken seriously, thousands of the nation's most elderly will end up becoming prisoners in their bleak, cold, TV-less houses until they die.
Perhaps you think old people just want to malinger inside their homes, shivering beneath a WWII grey serge army blanket and looking at a giant photograph sellotaped to the front of a blank TV screen? Perhaps you forgot that the majority of the pensioners that you would push further into Dickensian poverty spent their youth working for, and fighting for, the freedoms that you in your nice, comfortable, middle-class job and higher-than-most retirement will enjoy.
at 10:58 am
Friday, July 20, 2012
Panel debate: Restoring trust in financial services - FTAdviser.com
Financial Adviser, one of the papers for which I work, has been instrumental in the launch of this campaign, from a germ of an idea in November last year, through to the official launch earlier this month.
On the way we have had some very high profile support, from the outgoing archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, Rabbi Jonathan Romain, Keith Tondeur OBE - founder of Credit Action - and many big-name companies from the world of finance: NS&I, Legal & General, Vanguard and SCM Private.
But sadly not a single front-bencher of any party decided to get involved. We asked known religious politicians - not a single one wanted to lend their support to the Question of Trust campaign. I guess none of the Treasury, DWP or policy makers in Whitehall think that it is important to restore trust in financial services and to instil values of fidelity, faithfulness and honesty.
That pretty much explains the following: Barclays, HSBC, Northern Rock, Equitable Life, PPI mis-selling... etc etc
at 9:11 am
Monday, July 16, 2012
The wonders of the weather in England at the moment will never cease to amaze me. We are wearing our winter coats, scarves and thick black tights. Those days of wearing strappy sandals and pretty floral dresses have gone. They left in April, when the good weather disappeared.
I've never known a summer like this. Sure, it always rained during Wimbledon, to annoy the players from hotter climates and see if it could put them off their stride, but all through May, June and July, this persistent, cold drizzle has become exceptionally annoying.
1) We have to wear winter clothes
2) We can't go outside and enjoy a walk at lunchtime
3) Weekends are spent running from shelter to shelter
4) BBQ... not on your life. Nobody is having any.
5) Summer skirts and pretty shoes have been relegated to a corner of the wardrobe
6) Apples and orchard fruit have not grown. They are all the size of small plums or have not ripened at all.
Now I am trying to find the positive in all this and there are many.
1) Bewel Water has now become full again after many years of drought
2) Salmon fisheries are happy about their reservoirs being refilled
3) There's no hosepipe ban
4) Women no longer have to worry about keeping their legs shaved or using fake tan.
5) We're becoming more cultured as we are looking for indoor pursuits, including museum and exhibition visits
6) It's an excuse not to do gardening
But in all this it has become a big talking point, binding everyone together this Jubilee year. One PR told me: 'I have taken up running and now my hair just continually looks like I am wearing a frizzy poodle on my head'.
This has given me ideas - pet-themed headgear. And here is my personal favourite, courtesy of the good folk at Icanhascheezburger:
Lolcats: NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA - Cheezburger - BETA
at 12:12 pm
Friday, June 22, 2012
at 4:59 am
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
at 9:28 am
Friday, April 20, 2012
This cat is just so funny - he is really enjoying his liquid catnip treat! Usually cats make that sound when they're fighting, but a lot of cats also mrowwwomnomnomnom when they're excited and eating something really yummy - that's the only time when my cat makes this noise - when he's eating a piece of ham!
So listen in and turn the volume way up for maximum fun effect! And thanks to CuteOverload for the cool link
at 10:19 am